II ILL WHIST] THE ART OF JAMES McNEILL WHISTLER LONDON : GEORGE BELL AND SONS PORTUGAL ST. LINCOLN'S INN, W.C. CAMBRIDGE : DEIGHTON, BELL & CO. NEW YORK: THE MACMILLAN CO. BOMBAY : A. H. WHEELER & CO. ■j£ • " I „ % l\ ST. IVES From a water colour At THE ART /1©5 Hep*- OF james McNeill whistler / AN APPRECIATION BY T. R. WAY and G. R. DENNIS LONDON GEORGE BELL AND SONS 1905 First published, October, 1903. Second edition, revised, January, 1904. Third and cheaper edition, February, 1905. CHISWICK PRESS: CHARLES WHITTINGHAM AND CO. TOOKS COURT, CHANCERY LANE, LONDON, TO LADY SEYMOUR HADEN, BY WHOSE SISTERLY AFFECTION AND WISE COUNSELS THE ROUGH PATH OF THE GREAT ARTIST THROUGH LIFE WAS OFTEN SMOOTHED, THIS VOLUME IS MOST RESPECT- FULLY DEDICATED BY THE AUTHORS PREFACE TO THE THIRD EDITION TOURING the fifteen months which have *^* elapsed since the first edition of this book was published, much has been written about Whistler, several exhibitions of his etchings and lithographs have been held in London, and a very fine and representative collection of his works has been gathered together and shown by the Copley Society of Boston. The result of this in- creased knowledge of Whistlers work has been to disarm most of the ignorant or prejudiced criticism with which he was formerly assailed, and it is reasonable to hope that the exhibition organized by the International Society in London will com- plete the good work, and that the claims of his admirers, which have so often been held up to ridicule, will be finally acknowledged to have been more than justified. Of course, there will always vii remain a certain number of people, even of culti- vated people, who are unable to appreciate or understand the art of Whistler. Every man of genius, who goes beyond the conventional in art, and produces original and imaginative work, will always find detractors. But it is certain that as his artistic aims and principles become better known, the true greatness of his work will be more and more widely recognized. In the present volume, which is the outcome of many years'study of Whistlers art,the authors have endeavoured to explain these aims and principles, and to point out as simply as possible, and without any unnecessary technicalities, the characteristics of his works. The kind reception given to the book on its first appearance encourages them to hope that they have been not altogether un- successful in their attempt. The book deals solely with Whistler's art, and the short biographical chapter which is prefixed gives only the dates of certain important events in his artistic career, avoiding personal matters. The innumerable anec- viii dotes which have been told ad nauseam about the master have here been deliberately excluded. In compiling the few biographical notes the authors have to acknowledge the great assistance they have received from Mrs. W. McNeill Whistler, Mrs. Livermore, and Mr. Luke Ionides. They have also to express their gratitude to all the owners of pictures and other works who have kindly allowed their reproduction in this book. Thanks are especially due to Lord Battersea, Sir Henry Irving, Mr. J. J. Cowan, Mr. Edmund Davis, Mr. J. Carfrae Alston, Mrs. F. R. Leyland, Mrs. W. McNeill Whistler, and Mrs. M. B. Manuel for permitting works in their possession to be specially photographed for this book; to Mr. George McCulloch, Lady Meux, Mr. W. Burrell and M. Theodore Duret (whose portrait appears for the first time in these pages), for allowing their pictures to be illustrated; to Mr. Thomas Way, who has permitted his great collection of pastels, water colours and etchings to be drawn upon with- out reserve; and to the Director of the Boston ix Museum of Fine Arts, Messrs. Henry Graves and Co., Messrs. Goupil and Co., and the Fine Art Society, for the help they have given in various ways. Some few corrections were made in the second edition, but in the present issue no further altera- tions have been found necessary, except in the pages referring to the Peacock Room. This master- piece of decorative art was taken last year from its original home in Prince's Gate, and exhibited by Messrs. Obach and Co., by whom it was sold to Mr. Freer, thus disappointing the hope expressed by the authors that it might find a permanent resting-place in the Victoria and Albert Museum. The only consolation one can find in the matter is that as the " Princesse du Pays de la Porcelaine " has also been acquired by the same collector, the Peacock Room can now be re-erected as originally designed. Several other pictures have recently changed hands, but it has not been thought neces- sary to chronicle these changes in the text. T. R. W. February ', 1905. G. R. D CONTENTS I. Introductory ..... i II. Mr. Whistler as a Painter . 14 III. Figure-Subjects .... 20 IV. Portraits ..... 34 V. Nocturnes, Marines and Chevalet Pieces 5i VI. Etchings 65 VII. Lithographs ..... 78 VIII. Pastels, Water Colours and De- corative Work .... 89 IX. Mr. Whistler as a Writer . 106 List of Works by Mr. Whistler Exhibited at the Royal Academy , . .119 Index , s • , , a .123 XI LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS St. Ives . Frontispiece From a water colour in the possession of Mr. Thomas Way. James McNeill Whistler From a bust by Sir Edgar Boehm, R.A., in the possession of Mr. Thomas Way. Portrait of the Artist, by himself From the picture in the possession of Mr. George McCulloch. Portrait Study of the Artist, by himself From the drawing in the possession of Mr. Thomas Way. At the Piano From the picture in the possession of Mr Edmund Davis. Study for a White Girl . Reproduced in facsimile from the pastel draw- ing in the possession of Mr. Thomas Way. Symphony in White, No. 3 From the picture in the possession of Mr Edmund Davis TO FACE PAGE 22 26 30 Xlll La Princesse du Pays de la Porcelaine . From the picture in the possession of Mr. C. L. Freer. The Golden Screen From the picture in the possession of Lord Battersea. Portrait of M. Theodore Duret . From the picture in the possession of M Duret. Portrait of Dr. W. McNeill Whistler From the picture in the possession of Mrs Whistler. Portrait of the Painter's Mother . From the picture in the Luxembourg Museum Portrait of Thomas Carlyle . From the picture in the Corporation Art Gallery, Glasgow. Portrait of Miss Rosa Corder From the picture in the possession of Mr. R. A. Canfield. The Fur Jacket From the picture in the possession of Mr. W. Burrell. Portrait of Lady Meux . From the picture in the possession of Lady Meux. Study for a Portrait of " Baby Leyland " Reproduced in facsimile from the drawing in TO FACE PAGE 32 32 38 40 42 42 44 44 46 46 the possession of Mr. Thomas Way. XIV TO FACE PAGE Irving as Philip II. of Spain ... 48 From the picture in the possession of Sir Henry Irving. Portrait of Master Stevie Manuel . 48 From the picture in the possession of Mrs. M. B. Manuel. The Master Smith of Lyme Regis . . 50 From the picture in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The Little Rose of Lyme Regis . . 50 From the picture in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. " Lillie in our Alley" — Brown and Gold 50 From the picture in the possession of Mr. J. J. Cowan. The Thames in Ice ..... 56 From the picture in the possession of Mr. C. L. Freer. Old Battersea Bridge .... 58 From the picture in the possession of Mr. Edmund Davis. Pink and Gray — Chelsea ... 58 From the picture in the possession of Mr. C. L. Freer. Nocturne in Blue and Silver, No. i . 60 From the picture in the possession of Mrs. F. R. Leyland. Cremorne Gardens 60 From the picture in the possession of Mr. T. R. Way. xv TO FACE PAGE Nocturne in Blue and Gold — Valparaiso 62 From the picture in the possession of Mr. George McCulloch. The Angry Sea 62 From the picture in the possession of Mr. J. J. Cowan. Nocturne in Brown and Gold — Chelsea Rags ....... 64 From the picture in the possession of Mr. J. J. Cowan. The Cure's Little Class .... 64 From the picture in the possession of Mr. J. J. Cowan. Dieppe — Blue and Silver ... 64 From the picture in the possession of Mr. J. J. Cowan. Black Lion Wharf, Wapping 68 From the etching in the British Museum. Rotherhithe ...... 70 From the etching in the possession of Mr. Thomas Way. Weary . 72 From the dry-point in the possession of Mr. Thomas Way. The Traghetto 74 From the etching in the possession of Mr. Thomas Way. xvi TO FACE PAGE Early Morning 78 From the lithograph. The Tall Bridge 80 From the lithograph. The Toilet 82 From the lithograph. Limehouse 84 From the lithograph. Study for a Portrait of Mrs. Leyland . 90 Reproduced in facsimile from the pastel in the possession of Mr. Thomas Way. Bead-Stringers, Venice .... 92 From the pastel in the possession of Mr. Thomas Way. The Old Marble Palace, Venice . . 92 From the pastel in the possession of Mr. Thomas Way. The Shell . ..... 94 From the pastel in the possession of Mr. J. Carfrae Alston. Nude Study 94 Reproduced in facsimile from the drawing in the possession of Mr. Thomas Way. Sam Weller's Landlord in the Fleet . 96 From the early water colour in the possession of Mrs. W. McNeill Whistler. London Bridge 96 From the water colour in the possession of Mr. Thomas Way. b xvii TO FACE PAGE Southend, the Pleasure Yacht . . 96 From the water colour in the possession of Mr. Thomas Way. Chelsea Shops 98 From the water colour in the possession of Mr. J. J. Cowan. Pink and Rose — The Mother's Sleep . 98 From the water-colour in the possession of Mr. J. J. Cowan. Interior of the Peacock Room at No. 49, Prince's Gate 100 Reproduced by permission of Messrs. Osborn and Mercer. Panels from the Peacock Room (2 pages) 102 Reproduced by permission from the "Pall Mall Magazine." Illustration to "The Major's Daughter" 113 By permission of Messrs. Chatto and Windus. Illustration to " The Morning before the Massacre of St. Bartholomew " 117 By permission of Messrs. Chatto and Windus. Note. — The four lithographic facsimiles have been printed by Mr. T. Way, and the frontispiece by the Meisenbach Co., Ltd. The photographs have been taken by Messrs. T. R. Annan and Sons, Messrs. Walker and Cockerell, Mr. W. E. Gray, and Mr. James Hyatt. XVlll 1 james McNeill whistler. From the bust by Sir Edgar Eoehm, R.A. the art of james McNeill whistler CHAPTER I INTRODUCTORY IN attempting to analyse and describe the art of James McNeill Whistler, one is faced at the outstart with the choice of two alternatives — such a choice as the work of no other artist would offer. For either he is great — nay, of the greatest a master, or he is what his earliest critics called him — a charlatan! There is no middle course. If his artistic aims are true, few will deny his great- ness; if false, it can only be a matter of time before his works, divested of the glamour with which his admirers have surrounded them, are seen in their true light. No apology is needed for stating that it is our aim to show that he be- longs to the ranks of the great masters in art. It seems almost incredible that at this period of the world's history we should be considering the B I works of a contemporary artist, which, whatever else may be said of them, are at least so original as to be entirely new ; that it should be possible to say: " Here is a creator, a genius, who has brought about combinations of colour and tone and line which have never before been attempted; who has had the strength to free his art from all literary dependence, to break away from all the accepted conventions, and to rely for his effects solely on pure qualities of paint in tone and line and colour." It is the custom, in writing of the works of an artist, to place him in some group of his contem- poraries, or in some well-known school of paint- ing, and in most cases this can be done without difficulty. His subjects and his manner of treat- ing them, or the sources — often very obvious — of his inspiration, are generally sufficient to connect him with other painters. But when we try to place Mr. Whistler, we find that his work stands quite alone. By general consent he is termed an Impressionist, and in its truest sense the term perhaps describes his art better than any other. But the same term is applied to many painters of the day, between whose aims and his there is no sympathy whatever, and whose finished work bears no similarity to his. Indeed, with the pos- sible exception of that most exquisite painter 2 Albert Moore, none of his contemporaries can be classed with him; and it is impossible to men- tion the name of Albert Moore without feeling that the comparison between the work of the two artists cannot be carried very far. Both had the same ideals, it is true, but their treatment was radically different. In looking at Albert Moore's work, one feels that he has achieved his end com- pletely, that there is nothing beyond. He has solved his problems with mathematical accuracy, and the result is the unsympathetic dryness of work in which, though the technical achievement is perfect, very little is left to the imagination of the spectator. In Mr. Whistlers work, on the other hand, there is always present an indefinable suggestion of mystery — of something behind what meets the eye at first sight. Anyone who has lived with one of his pictures continually before him can testify how it grows gradually on the beholder, daily showing new beauties and providing a constant stimulus to the imagination. It has been given to few artists to excel in so many branches of art. In oil and water-colour painting, in pastel, in etching, in lithography — in whatever method of expression he chose from time to time — Mr. Whistler struck a new note, and without straining his medium beyond its 3 legitimate resources, showed that it was capable of being carried to a point never reached before either by his contemporaries, or, with very few exceptions, by the great masters of the past who have worked on the same lines. At the very beginning of his career Mr. Whistler seems to have set out on a definite path of his own choosing, from which he never deviated; and now, looking back over his life's achievement, the only difference to be observed between his earliest and his latest works lies in the inevitable increase of mastery over his material. Even this difference is apparent only to the closest students of his art. For to most critics the early Thames etchings, produced more than forty years ago, seem to attain the utmost perfection of technique. Yet if they are compared with some of the latest lithographs, it will be found that the same won- derful qualities are achieved with infinitely greater facility to the artist. In his early portraits he re- quired an enormous number of sittings from his models ; yet a short time before his death he painted in two sittings a study of a girl's head, which in mastery of handling is equal to anything he ever produced. It is told of Hokusai, the greatest of Japanese artists, that, when he was about 90 years old, he said that if he should live to be 1 10 he would then 4 PORTRAIT OF JAMES McNEILL WHISTLER BY HIMSELF. be able to draw anything and everything. Had Mr. Whistler happily been spared to accomplish a like span of years, his command over his material would indeed have been phenomenal! James Abbott McNeill Whistler was born at Lowell, Massachusetts, 1 on July nth, 1834. He came from the Irish branch of an old English family, of which his grandfather, Major John Whistler, was the first representative in America. His father was Major George Washington Whist- ler, a distinguished engineer, whose second wife, James's mother, was Anna Matilda McNeill, the daughter of Dr. C. D. McNeill, of Wilmington, North Carolina. At the age of nine he was taken to St. Petersburg, where his father held an im- portant appointment as engineer of the St. Peters- burg and Moscow Railway. Major Whistler died in 1849, and soon afterwards Mrs. Whistler and her sons returned to America, where, in 185 1, James entered the West Point Military Academy. His career here was not a success, though he se- cured prizes in French and in drawing, and in 1854 he took his discharge. He then obtained a post as draughtsman in the office of the Coast and 1 In the Rusldn trial he himself stated that he was born at St. Petersburg; but he may have meant that he was born there " in art " — that he received his first inspiration there. Geodetic Survey at Washington, in which capa- city he made his first etchings on the margin of a map. If the three months which he spent under government taught him the technicalities of etch- ing on copper they were not wholly wasted ; but he was quite unfitted for routine work, and early in 1855 he gave up his position and definitely de- voted himself to art. After a short visit to England he settled in Paris in 1855, and entered the studio of Gleyre, a romantic painter with whom he can have had no sympathy. Here, however, he was associated with such men as Degas, Bracquemond, Alphonse Legros, and Fantin-Latour; and among his fellow-students were Sir E. J. Poynter and Mr. George Du Maurier. While in Paris he exe- cuted the " Little French Set" of etchings, which were published in 1858. In 1859 Mr. Whistler was in London, where he lived with his brother- in-law, Sir Seymour Haden, in Sloane Street. Two of his etchings were exhibited at the Academy this year — probably two of the Thames Series, which were produced between 1859 and 1861, though not published until many years later. He afterwards shared a studio for some time with Du Maurier in Newman Street, Oxford Street, and then, after spending some months at Wap- ping, where he was engaged both in painting and etching, he settled in Lindsay Row, Chelsea. His 6 first important picture, " At the Piano," was hung at the Academy in i860, and was bought by John Phillip, R.A., the well-known painter of Spanish subjects. This was followed next year by " La Mere Gerard," a picture now in the possession of Mr. A. C. Swinburne, and for several years after this paintings and etchings by Mr. Whistler ap- peared in the Academy Exhibitions. In 1863 " The White Girl " was sent to the Salon but re- jected. It was, however, hung in the " Salon des Refuses," where it aroused great enthusiasm among the critics. After a visit to Valparaiso in 1865-6, where he painted several pictures of the harbour and ocean, the artist again settled in Chelsea. H ere he painted many pictures of the great reach of the river oppo- site his house in Lindsay Row, as well as "The Thames in Ice," " The Last of Old Westminster," and other famous pictures of the Thames. During this period also were painted the series of pictures in which the influence of Japanese art is pre- dominant, chief among them being " La Princesse du Pays de la Porcelaine," " Die Lange Leizen — of the Six Marks," "The Golden Screen," "The Little White Girl," the "Symphony in White No. 3," and " The Balcony." In 1874 Mr. Whistler held the first exhibition of his work in a gallery in Pall Mall, which attracted 7 considerable attention. Among the pictures here exhibited were the " Portrait of the Painters Mother," which had already been hung at the Academy two years before, and the portraits of Thomas Carlyle, Miss Alexander, and Mr. and Mrs. Leyland, which were now seen for the first time. On the starting of the Grosvenor Gallery by Sir Coutts Lindsay in 1877, Mr. Whistler exhibited a series of nocturnes and other pictures, which called forth a violent attack from Ruskin in " Fors Clavigera." " For Mr. Whistler's own sake," he wrote, " no less than for the protection of the pur- chaser, Sir Coutts Lindsay ought not to have ad- mitted works into the gallery in which the ill- educated conceit of the artist so nearly approached the aspect of wilful imposture. I have seen, and heard, much of Cockney impudence before now; but never expected to hear a coxcomb ask two hundred guineas for flinging a pot of paint in the public's face." Mr. Whistler thereupon sued Ruskin for libel, claiming ,£1,000 damages for the injury done to his reputation. The case, which created great interest, was tried on November 25th and 26th, 1878, before Baron Huddleston and a special jury, and resulted in a verdict for the plaintiff with one farthing damages. Shortly afterwards he pub- 8 obr PORTRAIT STUDY OF THE ARTIST, BY HIMSELF. From a black and white drawing. lished the first of his famous brown paper pamph- lets, entitled, " Whistler v. Ruskin — Art and Art Critics." It was dedicated to Albert Moore, who had given evidence in his favour at the trial, and was a slashing attack on art critics in general and Ruskin in particular. Early in 1879 he left London and went to Venice, returning towards the end of 1880 and again set- tling in Chelsea. The first series of Venice etch- ings (twelve in number) were shown at the Fine Art Society's Gallery in December, 1880, and early next year a collection of fifty-three Venice pastels was exhibited in the same gallery. During the next few years three exhibitions of Mr. Whistler's work were held at Messrs. Dowdeswells' Gallery — namely, ''Etchings and Dry Points, second series," a collection of fifty-one prints, 1883, and " Notes, Harmonies and Nocturnes," first and second series, 1884 and 1886. Meanwhile he had been exhibiting a large number of pictures at the Grosvenor Gallery, including the Portraits of Miss Rosa Corder (1879), "Connie Gilchrist Dancing" (1879), Mrs. H. B. (now Lady) Meux (1882)— one of three portraits of this lady painted at this time — and Lady Archibald Campbell (1884), an d nu- merous nocturnes and marines. In 1884 Mr. Whistler was elected a member of the Royal Society of British Artists, of which two 9 years later he became President. The older mem- bers of the Society, however, were unable to ap- preciate his ideals and ambitions, and, though sup- ported by a large body of distinguished painters, he was compelled to resign. He was succeeded in 1888 by Mr. (now Sir) Wyke Bayliss. After his resigna- tion a complimentary dinner was given to the mas- ter at the Criterion Restaurant, on May 1st, 1889, " in recognition of his influence on art at home and abroad, and to congratulate him on his election to the Royal Academy of Munich." Mr. U nderdowne, Q.C., was in the chair, and proposed his guest's health in a brilliant speech, in the course of which he gave him the happy title of " Papilio mordens." Mr. Whistler had been working in lithography since the possibilities of that medium had been pointed out to him in 1878, and in 1887 he pub- lished his first collection of lithographs under the title of " Notes." During the next few years he executed a large number of drawings on the stone, both figure-subjects and landscape. In 1888 a small but important collection of his pictures was got together and exhibited by Miss Gould in the rooms of the Working Women's College in Queen's Square. It included the "Mother's Portrait," the " Carlyle," the "Miss Alexander," the " Rosa Corder," the '* Irving as Philip II. of Spain," and other pictures. 10 In the same year was published " Mr. Whistler's 1 Ten o'clock,' " a lecture which he had delivered to audiences in London, Oxford, and Cambridge in 1885. It is a brilliant and stimulating exposition of his theories on art. For years Mr. Whistler, always sensitive to any attacks on the dignity of his art, had been writing vigorous and witty letters to the press in reply to critics, and in 1890 he published, under the title of " The Gentle Art of Making Enemies," a collection of letters and other writings, including an amusingly annotated account of the Ruskin trial, and setting forth for the benefit of posterity the various controversies in which his original theories and his vigorous manner of up- holding them had from time to time involved him. While on the subject of his writings, mention may be made of another publication, issued in Paris in 1899, entitled, " The Baronet and the Butterfly," — an account of the somewhat complicated legal pro- ceedings which resulted from a dispute with Sir William Eden with reference to a portrait of his wife which Mr. Whistler had agreed to paint. In 1892 an important exhibition of his work was held at Messrs. Goupil's Gallery, where was brought together a collection of " Nocturnes, Marines, and Chevalet pieces " of all periods, including several of the painter's finest works. Had anything been needed to establish the master's reputation, this 11 exhibition, containing, as it did, only forty-three oil paintings, would have more than sufficed to do so, and it is impossible not to regret that the opportunity was not seized to secure at least one picture for the nation. Shortly after this exhibition Mr. Whistler made a tour through France and Brittany, and settled in Paris in the Rue du Bac. Many lithographs were produced during 1893-4 in Brittany, in the Luxem- bourg Gardens and in his own house and gardens. In 1895 he returned to England, and spent some time at Lyme Regis, where he executed a group of paintings, including " The Master Smith" and " The Rose of Lyme Regis," and a number of lithographs, chiefly of forge subjects. In December of the same year, he exhibited a collection of litho- graphs at the Fine Art Society's Gallery. Mr. Whistler was again in London in 1896, and con- tinued the production of lithographs, among which the magnificent series of the Thames Embankment done from the Savoy Hotel are the most notable. In 1898 he was elected first President of the " In- ternational Society of Sculptors, Painters, and Gravers," a position which he held until his death, which took place on July 17th, 1903. He had been ailing for many months, but was at work up to the very last. Mr. Whistler received no recognition whatever 12 from the official art bodies in this country, though the British Museum was for years a buyer of all his etchings, until stopped by the enforcement of the rule which prevents them from buying the work of living men. Many honours were, however, conferred upon him by other nations. He was an Officer of the Legion of Honour, member of the Societe Nationale des Artistes Francais, hon. mem- ber of the Royal Academy of St. Luke (Rome), Commander of the Order of the Crown of Italy, hon. member of the Royal Academy of Bavaria, Chevalier of the Order of St. Michael, and hon. member of the Royal Academy of Dresden. We are not concerned here with his private life. But we may mention that he married Mrs. Godwin, widow of E. W. Godwin, a distinguished architect. Mrs. Whistler, who was herself a gifted artist, and an enthusiastic sympathizer with her husband and his work, died in 1896. 13 CHAPTER II MR. WHISTLER AS A PAINTER AS a painter Mr. Whistler stands pre-eminent in the three great qualities of colour, tone and mastery of handling. His great gift of ex- quisite vision — the power to select and the will to see only what is beautiful in his subject — is as noticeable in his etchings and lithographs as in his paintings. As a colourist he was not only able to re- produce what he saw in its true colours, if he wished, but to create new harmonies in paint, such as no one before him had imagined. In the handling of his materials he proved himself second to no one. He held, and as usual he carried out his theory in practice, that the whole surface of a painting should be wet while being worked on. It will be evident even to the layman that such a method of procedure presupposes infinite technical skill ; a painting in oils will not remain wet for very many hours, and to cover the whole of a large canvas, such as those on which he painted his full-length 14 portraits, at one sitting, requires not only the most definite knowledge on the part of the painter of what he intends to do, but also the ability to carry out his ideas to the end without the slightest check. It must not be supposed, however, that his great portraits were begun and finished on one day. Far from it. It is well known that he required very many sittings, and the picture was gradually built up from its first ghostly suggestion, step by step, until it reached the perfect state which he alone had foreseen. But each step included the whole painting, and it is probably the case that at the end of each sitting the picture was to all appear- ance quite complete. In studying Mr. Whistler's paintings, we find that in the character of the treatment his earliest ex- hibited works differ distinctly from those which succeeded them. In the " Piano Picture" and " La Mere Gerard " the canvas is loaded with paint, and there is apparent an immense vigour which is entirely absent from pictures of a later period. In their force and richness of tone they suggest the influence of a study of Tintoret. With the growth of experience and the develop- ment of his power, he discarded this earlier man- ner and began to paint with the thinnest of oil paint, almost as liquid as water, and always with a full brush. A careful study of his brush-work 15 shows that he attained the most extraordinary certainty in his command over his materials. His flesh is always flesh, not paint, and always too the flesh of his sitter. How varied in character this may be will appear if we compare the delicate semi-transparent complexion of a calm refined old age in the " Mother's Portrait," the ruggedness of the " Carlyle," the childlike bloom of the " Miss Alexander/' and the tender gradations of colour in the " Rosa Corder." He had no fixed receipt for mixing flesh tints, and as he himself expressed his ideas on almost every point of art with incom- parable directness and force, it may be well to quote his own words on this question. 1 " The notion that I paint flesh lower in tone than it is in nature, is entirely based upon the popular superstition as to what flesh really is — when seen on canvas ; for the people never look at nature with any sense of its pictorial appearance — for which reason, by the way, they also never look at a picture with any sense of nature, but, uncon- sciously from habit, with reference to what they have seen in other pictures. Now, in the usual ' pictures of the year' there is but one flesh, that shall do service under all circumstances, whether the person painted be in the soft light of the room or out in the glare of the open. The one aim of 1 From the Catalogue of the International Exhibition, 1899. 16 the unsuspecting painter is to make his man * stand out' from the frame — never doubting that, on the contrary, he should really, and in truth ab- solutely does, stand within the frame — and at a depth behind it equal to the distance at which the painter sees his model. The frame is, indeed, the window through which the painter looks at his model, and nothing could be more offensively in- artistic than this brutal attempt to thrust the model on the hitherside of this window ! " In the painting of the accessories Mr. Whistler displayed the most consummate skill. The flowers he so loved to introduce in his early pictures are dainty, living semi-transparent realities, each petal drawn with a single touch, pure and brilliant in colour, yet never asserting themselves beyond their proper place. In the ornaments, such as Chinese vases, lacquer pots and trays, Japanese fans and colour prints, he showed equal technical skill, and he delighted in the most complex problems in con- nection with the costumes of his sitters. The texture of the materials he painted is always re- cognizable at a glance, yet there is no effort in them, no attempt to bring them into prominence. Look at the lace in the " Mothers Portrait/' per- fectly suggested, but with no definite pattern carefully wrought out as Crivelli or Holbein would have done it ; the elaborate embroidery of c 17 the robe of the " Princesse du Pays de la Porce- laine "; the white muslin sleeves showing the flesh beneath, and the muslin flounces with which several of his early figures are draped ; the felt hats decked with ostrich plumes, so beloved also of Velasquez : all are painted with superb skill, each in its proper place within the picture, surrounded with that most illusive of all things to paint — the atmosphere. So far we have dealt almost entirely with Mr. Whistler's painting of figure-subjects, but in his landscapes, and sea and river scenes, his handling is equally masterly. Whatever his subject, he never attempted to hide his brush-work : in his large canvases he used a large brush, and in his small pictures a small one, and in both the bold sweep of the brush full of pigment can always be seen. It is never softened down by retouching, because, having been thoroughly thought out, it expresses exactly what its author intended. At first, in such pictures as " The Thames in Ice," and " The Last of Old Westminster," which be- long to the same period as " The Piano Picture," he used great impasto and force. A little later, in two pictures of the river at Chelsea, the surface of the painting is wrought to the highest point of perfection, as smooth as ivory ; but this style was not long maintained, as he seemed to prefer work- 18 ing with a thinner pigment and in a more facile manner. He has painted water with incomparable skill, notably in the " Valparaiso Harbour," and in the river scenes, where by a turn of the brush in the middle of a long sweeping stroke he is able to give a perfect rendering of the luminous oily patches so frequent on tidal waters. With a single full brush, as in " The Angry Sea," he suggests the waves breaking on the shore — a living mass of moving water, not a fixed line full of detail, such as an instantaneous photograph will give. It is very difficult to explain in words this great mastery of handling, except in the presence of the pictures themselves ; but anyone who will take the trouble to study them carefully, at the proper dis- tance, will soon realize the technical skill which created them. It must be confessed that this is the last thing the artist himself would have desired or encouraged. What he wished us to see was the picture as a whole, the perfect result of his labour ; but it is none the less fascinating to try to discover how this result was brought about. o 19 CHAPTER III FIGURE-SUBJECTS IT was Mr. Whistler's custom to call his pic- tures " Notes," "Harmonies," " Symphonies," " Arrangements," or "Nocturnes" in this or that colour ; and his reasons for adopting this nomen- clature are worth quoting, as they give the key to much in his art that has puzzled the critics. " The vast majority of English folk," he says, 1 "cannot and will not consider a picture as a picture, apart from any story which it may be supposed to tell. My picture of a 'Harmony in Gray and Gold* is an illustration of my meaning — a snow scene with a single black figure and a lighted tavern. I care nothing for the past, present or future of the black figure, placed there because the black was wanted at that spot. All that I know is that my combination of gray and gold is the basis of the picture. Now this is precisely what my friends cannot grasp. They say : ' Why not call it " Trotty 1 The Red Rag (" Gentle Art of Making Enemies," pp. 126- 128). 20 Veck " and sell it for a round harmony of golden guineas ? ' — naively acknowledging that, without baptism, there is no . . . market ! ... As music is the poetry of sound, so is painting the poetry of sight, and the subject-matter has nothing to do with harmony of sound or of colour. The great musicians knew this. Beethoven and the rest wrote music — simply music ; symphony in this key, con- certo or sonata in that. . . . Art should be in- dependent of all claptrap — should stand alone, and appeal to the artistic sense of eye or ear, without confounding this with emotions entirely foreign to it, as devotion, pity, love, patriotism, and the like. All these have no kind of concern with it; and that is why I insist on calling my works ' arrangements ' and ' harmonies.' " It is interesting to note, however, that Mr. Whistler did not adopt this method of naming his pictures until he had been exhibiting for many years. Apparently the " Symphony in White, No. 3," shown at the Academy in 1867, was the first pic- ture to bear the distinctive nomenclature which afterwards became a matter of principle, though the titles of " The White Girl" (1862), and "The Golden Screen" and "The Little White Girl" (1865), show that the decorative quality of the painting was always of more importance to the artist than the subject. Many of the early pictures 21 were retitled in later years — thus " The White Girl" and "The Little White Girl" became " Symphonies in White," Nos. i and 2. The first picture exhibited by Mr. Whistler was "At the Piano," which was hung at the Academy in i860 and now belongs to Mr. Edmund Davis. It represents a lady in black — Mrs. (now Lady) Seymour Haden, the painter's sister — seated at a grand piano, while her little daughter, who figures in so many of Mr. Whistlers early etchings, leans against the instrument and gazes with rapt attention at her mother. Under the piano are some green violin-cases, and behind the player to the left is a table with a blue and green bowl on it. The pose of the child is full of grace and charm, and her white dress stands out in strong contrast against the dark brown wood of the piano and the rich red of the carpet ; but the perfect tone of the white en- tirely overcomes any suggestion of violence or harshness, and the wall above the piano is filled in a very satisfying way with the lower edges of framed pictures hanging on it. The effect of the whole picture is one of great dignity and repose. " La Mere Gerard," which followed next year, is a powerful study of the head of an old French peasant woman, wearing a white-frilled cap; it is very rich in colour and was on one occasion jokingly described by the artist himself as a work by an old 22 master, a " Tintoret," and the description is not unwarranted. With the " Piano Picture" may be mentioned "The Music- Room," now in America, a picture which has inspired some members of the New English Art Club more perhaps than any other work of our day. The principal figure is a lady in a riding-habit to the right of the picture, while in the background a little girl in white is seated reading. In a looking-glass to the left is seen the reflection of a lady seated at a piano. The paint- ing of the accessories — the green shaded lamp over the girl's head, the chintz curtains, the por- celain vase reflected in the mirror — is of the most marvellous brilliance, and the whole picture is pitched in the highest possible key of colour. Following on these pictures came a group of works in which the influence of Japan is unmis- takable; and in considering them it is necessary to bear in mind the nature and extent of this in- fluence on Mr. Whistler's art. It is true that the artist of our time has but the same tools to work with as were used by the Greeks and Egyptians. The writer, indeed, may be relieved of some of his labour by the use of the fountain-pen or the typewriter, but his handwriting is of no importance to his art — it forms no part of his literary tech- nique. On the other hand, as Mr, Whistler him- 23 self pointed out, 1 " the painter has but the same pencil — the sculptor the chisel of centuries." Nevertheless he who runs may read, and it is clear that the artist of the present day may enter into the inheritance provided by the experience of ages if he have the will and the ability to do so. All the great painters have profited in this way by the work of their European predecessors. Mr. Whistler went further; and it is his great distinction that he was the first to gather up and mix in one crucible the essence of the pictorial arts of the East and of the West. In the composition and arrangement of their pic- tures, as well as in the spirit in which they ap- proach Nature as their source of inspiration, the artists of China and Japan differ radically from the great masters of European schools; so radic- ally, indeed, that it is only within the last few years that Western critics have begun to appreci- ate the beauty of their works. Mr. Whistler was an enthusiastic student and admirer of Japanese paintings and colour-prints at a time when they were generally looked upon as mere eccentric curiosities, and a quarter of a century before they became sought after by collectors; and the strength of his personality is shown by the fact that he was able to assimilate the artistic principles and ideals 1 "Ten o'Clock," p. 25. 24 of the East without ever for a moment losing his own individuality. He saw what was beautiful in oriental art, and developed his own art for a time on the same lines, but even in pictures such as 11 The Balcony," " La Princesse du Pays de la Porcelaine" and "The Golden Screen," in which he clothed his models in Japanese costumes and surrounded them with Japanese accessories, the Eastern influence, obvious as it is, is modified by European tradition and European ideals. In " The Balcony," the background is formed by the Chelsea reach of the Thames, and in the " Sym- phonies in White," Nos. 2, 3 and 4, although Japanese fans, pottery and umbrellas are intro- duced, and Eastern inspiration is evident, yet the models themselves, both in drapery and in char- acter, are purely classical in feeling, and the in- fluence is to be seen chiefly in the decorative arrangement of masses of pure colour, sometimes pale, sometimes strong, against a low-toned white background, and in the absence of all sharp defini- tion of light and shade. In the figure-subjects with which we are now concerned, in order to avoid the otherwise inevitable masses of dark shadow, Mr. Whistler made use of an extremely broad, quiet light, such as that in which Holbein placed his sitters — a light which recalls that of a gray day out of doors. By so doing he added yet 2 5 another difficulty to his painting, since for the relief of his figures he was obliged to rely entirely on the extraordinarily subtle atmosphere with which he surrounded them, without the aid of the high lights and deep shadows on near objects, so beloved of other painters. The four " Symphonies in White " form a group by themselves. The first, after being rejected by the Salon, was exhibited under the name of "The White Girl" in the " Salon des Refuses" in 1863, the second and third, entitled "The Little White Girl " and the " Symphony in White, No. 3," were hung at the Academy in 1865 and 1867; while the final design for the fourth, which was never completed, is now in the possession of Mr. C. L. Freer. In " The White Girl " the model stands facing the spectator in front of a white curtain. She is very simply dressed and holds a lily in her hand. The lines of the draperies and the figure are most grace- ful, and the picture is a delicate harmony in white tones, relieved only by the girl's dark red hair and the soft furs on which she stands. The face is full of individuality and charm. Here, as in so many of Mr. Whistler's pictures, the most delight- ful effect is produced out of the simplest material by sheer beauty of line and tone. Another " White Girl," painted at the same time, 26 STUDY FOR A WHITE GIRL. From the pastel. was unfortunately defaced by its author, but enough remains to show that it was as perfect a picture as its companion. The same girl who figures in the picture just described, is represented in life size, looking straight out at the spectator. Her white dress is relieved by a pink and black rosette, and a pink cloak hangs from her left arm, while in her right hand she holds a fan. Some soft folds of muslin round her neck serve to emphasize the charming oval of her face. To the left is some pink japonica, and on the wall above part of the frame of a picture. This is one of the earliest pictures in which Mr. Whistler made use of Japanese matting on the floor — a material which was not then easily obtained. Indeed, it would seem as though he must have had it specially imported for him, so perfectly does it always har- monize with the tone of his paintings. A study in pastel for this picture is here illustrated in fac- simile. "The Little White Girl" ("Symphony in White, No. 2"), which belongs to Mr. A. H. Studd, is still more lovely than "The White Girl." It re- presents a young girl standing in front of the fireplace, with her arm on the mantelpiece, on which are a blue and white porcelain vase and a bright piece of red lacquer. She is simply dressed in pure white and holds a brilliantly decorated 27 Japanese fan in her hand. Her face and head are reflected in the looking-glass, in which are to be seen also reflections of two pictures on the walls. On the right are some sprays of delicate pink and white azalea. The girl herself has no claim to beauty, and curiously enough this fact seems to give additional charm to the picture. It is impos- sible to look at it without feeling what a superb result has been achieved out of homely materials. The colours used are most brilliant; the red of the lacquer, the blues of the vase and the Japanese fan, the pink of the azaleas are all of the strongest, yet so absolutely perfect are they in themselves and in their relation to one another that the whole seems like some exhilarating allegro in a major key. This picture with its haunting beauty is so full of poetic charm and mystery that one cannot wonder that it inspired Mr. Swinburne to write the poem entitled " Before the Mirror," which begins : "White rose in red rose-garden Is not so white ; Snowdrops that plead for pardon And pine for fright Because the hard East blows Over their maiden rows Grow not as this face grows from pale to bright." The following verses were printed after the title in the catalogue of the Academy Exhibition : 28 II Come snow, come wind or thunder High up in air, I watch my face, and wonder At my bright hair ; Nought else exalts or grieves The rose at heart, that heaves With love of her own leaves and lips that pair. II I cannot tell what pleasures Or what pains were ; What pale new loves and treasures New years will bear : What beam will fall, what shower, What grief or joy for dower ; But one thing knows the flower ; the flower is fair." It may be interesting to record that originally the whole poem was printed on strips of gilded paper which were fastened to the sides and lower edge of the frame surrounding the picture. The " Symphony in White, No. 3," now in the possession of Mr. Edmund Davis, is a very un- usual but most graceful composition of two girls, one of whom is seated on a couch, while the other is on the ground, leaning against it. The lines resulting from the grouping are most satisfying ; but the greatest charm of the picture comes from the exquisite skill with which the warm and cool tones of the white and cream-coloured dresses, the couch, and the gray-blue and white matting on the floor contrast and blend with one another ; whilst touches of definite colour are given by the 29 red hair of the girls, the red fan which one of them has dropped, and the green leaves and purple flowers on the right of the picture When this picture was exhibited in the Academy in 1867, Mr. P. G. Hamerton raised the objection against the title on the ground that it was " not precisely a symphony in white," owing to the other colours introduced ; and as similar criticism is still sometimes heard, it may be worth while to give Mr. Whistler's characteristic reply : " Bon Dieu ! did this wise person expect white hair and chalked faces ? And does he, in his astounding consequence, believe that a symphony in F contains no other note, but shall be a continued repetition of F, F, F? . . . Fool!" 1 Mr. Whistler's series of Symphonies in White culminated in a picture which, alas, was never destined to be completed. The " Symphony in White, No. 4," or " The Three Girls," also some- times called " The Hothouse," was a picture for which he had made numberless studies both for the composition and drawing of the figures, and for the arrangement of colours ; the final design was a large panel painted some time in the early seventies and shown at one of the exhibitions of the Society of British Artists. Beneath an awning three girls, draped in white robes of classic char- 1 " Gentle Art of Making Enemies," p. 45. 30 acter, are tending a number of flowers planted in pots of bright hue, and arranged upon an open- work stand of greenish blue colour. The central mass of the picture is a dwarf almond tree in full bloom of pink blossom, planted in a vase of ver- milion shade. Two of the girls carry pink draperies, and all wear caps of bright red or purple. They are grouped around the almond, one bending low over it, while another leans over her and the third stands facing them, holding behind her head a Japanese umbrella, with a broad pink band round its white centre. The graceful curves of the bending figures and the dignity of the standing girl — which recalls nothing in art so much as the Venus de Milo — beneath the great oval of the umbrella, are emphasized by the long straight lines of the flower-stand and the low greenish white wall which forms the background. A bright blue sea is visible between the wall and the awning. The dominant notes of colour are the scarlet head- dresses and flower-vase, the blue sea and flower- stand, and the pink of the almond tree ; pink and purple notes link these colours together into a marvellously brilliant and harmonious whole. Mr. Whistler began to paint the finished picture of this subject on more than one canvas, with the figures about the size of life, and it was intended to be hung in the Peacock Room in Mr. Leyland's 3i house. It was never completed, but Mr. Chapman owns a large canvas which Mr. Whistler left half finished when he went to Venice. Of other pictures which belong to the Japanese period, the most important are " La Princesse du Pays de la Porcelaine" (1864); " Die Lange Leizen — of the Six Marks" (Academy, 1864); "The Golden Screen" (Academy, 1865); and " The Balcony" (Academy, 1870). All these pic- tures are characterized by dainty charm of colour, subtle and delicate gradations of light, grace and dignity of line, and withal by a distinction of style which defies exact definition. The beautiful full-length portrait of Miss Spartali, known as " La Princesse du Pays de la Porcelaine," of which the Peacock Room in Mr. Leyland's house was once the setting, is now in the possession of Mr. W. Burrell. It is a wonderful creation, gorgeous in colour and highly decorative in treatment. The full-length figure is clothed in an elaborate Japanese costume, and holds a fan in her hand. On the floor is a brilliant rug, and, behind, a delicately painted screen. The grace and dignity of the " Princesse," the flowing lines of whose figure contrast, as in so many of Mr. Whistler s pictures, with the straight simple lines of the screen in the background, and the splendour of her surroundings, combine to make up a whole of incomparable beauty. 32 T. R, Annan and Sons photo. ~\ LA PRINCESSE DU PAYS DE LA PORCELAINE. " The Golden Screen," — a caprice in purple and gold — which is in the possession of Lord Batter- sea, represents a lady dressed in a richly embroid- ered Japanese robe, seated on the floor, looking at a colour print by Hiroshige, which she holds in her hand. Other prints lie at her feet, and behind is a splendid old painted Japanese screen. In "The Balcony," an arrangement in flesh-colour and green, the river, with a long line of buildings on the opposite shore, forms a background of gray> which serves to set off the brilliant group of girls in wonderful Japanese costumes on the balcony in the foreground. " It is," says Mr. Theodore Child, 1 "a vision of form and colour in luminous air, a Japanese fancy realized on the banks of the gray Thames." Mention may also be made of a very early study, in Mr. Freer's collection, of a nude Venus stand- ing on the seashore ; behind her the blue-green sea rising to a very high purple horizon forms an ex- quisite background to the softly modelled flesh, and from the upper side of the canvas masses of pink and red blossom are introduced into the foreground and complete a splendid harmony. 1 "Harper's Magazine," September, 1889. 33 CHAPTER IV PORTRAITS THERE are but few of the great painters who have not delighted in portraiture. Many of the greatest — Holbein, Rembrandt, Velasquez — have made it their principal work in life ; others equally great, such as Tintoret, have been forced to paint portraits as a means of living, while en- gaged on work which they considered more im- portant. To Mr. Whistler portrait painting was as serious as any other branch of his art, and the general verdict is that in portraiture he reached his highest achievement as a painter. It is possible to understand, though not easy to sympathize with, people who fail to appreciate the tender beauty of his nocturnes, or who are not touched by the de- corative charm of his Japanese arrangements; but his portraits, — though it is true that they were re- ceived with the same ignorant conservatism which ever greets what goes beyond the conventional in art — stand now beyond criticism; and it is per- 34 missfble to believe that the " Mothers Portrait," the "Carlyle," the " Miss Alexander," the " Rosa Corder," and many others, will always be ranked among the greatest pictures of all time. Mr. Whistler's portraits differ radically from those of his contemporaries. He seems first of all to have considered what may be called the decora- tive qualities of his sitter ; in his early period especially he aimed at producing a picture which in its colour-scheme, and the arrangements of masses of light and dark, should be beautiful in itself, and equally interesting to the spectator, whether he happened to know the sitter or not. He never attempted to produce a startling real- istic likeness, such as is approved by the philistine and the Academician. But after much study he gained an insight into the real character of the man or woman he was painting, and portrayed the best side of that character ; the result, though it was an idealized version, as remote from all transitory expression as the Infantas of Velasquez in the Louvre or the Philip IV. in the National Gallery, remaining always a real likeness of his model. It is true that some of his sitters were dis- appointed in their portraits, but, as St. James pointed out long ago, no man realizes his true out- ward appearance ; after " beholding his natural face in a glass" he "goeth his way, and straight- 35 way forgetteth what manner of man he was." One instance may be recorded in which a lady com- plained that her portrait — a head and bust — though a charming picture, was not a good likeness. Some time afterwards some friends were looking through the family album, which contained many photo- graphs from life, and it was generally acknowledged that the only satisfactory likeness of the lady was a photograph of this very picture. Mr. Whistler has himself laid down the prin- ciples by which he was guided in portrait painting, knowing that a picture of this kind has to be lived with, and that transient expression will rarely please the beholder for any great length of time : "The imitator," he says, 1 "is a poor kind of creature. If the man who paints only the tree, or flower, or other surface he sees before him were an artist, the king of artists would be the photo- grapher. It is for the artist to do something beyond this : in portrait painting to put on canvas something more than the face the model wears for that one day ; to paint the man, in short, as well as his features ; in arrangement of colours to treat a flower as his key, not as his model." For many years Mr. Whistler seemed to have a great preference for painting the full-length figure 1 "The Red Rag"— "Gentle Art of Making Enemies,'* 5 p. 128. 36 in life-size. Unfortunately the great size of the canvases required for such portraits is a disad- vantage in an ordinary house, as they can only be properly seen in a gallery or in a very large room, where they can be hung so that the bottom of the frame almost rests on the floor — not, as we usually see them, with the feet on the level of our eyes. Yet the principle is right, and the result far more satisfactory than when the frame cuts off the figure at the knees or in the middle. The whole being is before us in his natural attitude, and in graceful and dignified repose. The great full-lengths of Velasquez probably taught him the value of this arrangement, which, however, he carried out in his own way, never attempting to give the great force and vigour of effect which the Spanish master delighted in, but posing his models in a much more subdued light such as is natural to our more northern climate. It will be noticed how full of resource he was in overcoming the difficulties presented by the dress of his sitters. A woman's costume is as a rule comparatively easy for an artist to deal with ; but a full-length portrait of a man standing is much more difficult to manage. The two parallel lines of the legs present a tre- mendous problem, especially in evening dress, graceful though it can be. Yet it will be seen how admirably the difficulties are overcome in the 37 portrait of M. Duret, which we illustrate. The full- length figure of Mr. Leyland is dealt with in a somewhat similar way, the dark figures in each case bein^ relieved against li^ht backgrounds, with few accessories of any kind. Several pictures which are in reality portraits, have already been referred to in the previous chapter. But the beauty and the value of these paintings depend on the colour-scheme and com- position, and the titles given to them show that the artist considered them primarily as arrange- ments in colour, the fact of their representing individual sitters being of secondary importance. Passing to the portraits proper, Mr. Whistler's studies of himself must first be considered. Of these the " Portrait of Himself as a Young Man," in the possession of Mr. George McCulloch, which is here reproduced, is the most important. Mr. R. A. M. Stevenson pointed out the masterly simplicity of the composition. " Scarce a portrait outside the work of Velasquez, Titian, or Rem- brandt," he wrote, 1 " is placed on the canvas with the simple telling effect of this one. How many heads look as if they were chucked on to a canvas, and as if with equal effect they might have been chucked on to any other ? Let your attention climb the 1 Quoted in the "Art Journal," October, 1897. 33 Manzi, Joy ant and Co. photo. ] PORTRAIT OF M. THEODORE DURET. swaggering line of the hat and head of this figure, and tell me if you could willingly lose the running rhythm of pleasant spaces that ripples between it and the stiff four-sided frame. It is like the changing counterpoint that follows a repeated bass, and you might as well play Bach with one finger as dispense with the intervals of proportion that Mr. Whistler has placed between his figure and his frame. If you call this a question of mere de- coration, look again, and you will see that the aroma of individuality disengaged from this por- trait comes in great measure from the composition, which emphasizes the swinging energy of the line of the head by contrasting it with the obstinate rectitude of the frame. There is no tedium and nothing mechanical or over-symmetrical about this picture ; yet the dropping of the figure between the two verticals of the frame is like an interval in music justly hit. The two spaces of background on either side, one spread out and tranquil, the other confined and jagged, complete each other admirably." In another early portrait the artist represents himself in a large hat and with bushy hair, the head and bust only being shown. This picture is now in New York. He also painted his own por- trait at full length in the painting, entitled, " The Artist's Studio," a small canvas in the Japanese 39 manner, belonging to Mr. Douglas Freshneld. Another early portrait — a pastel drawing on brown paper — is reproduced in this volume. 1 Of very great interest too is the portrait of the painter's brother, Dr. W. McNeill Whistler, the famous throat surgeon, which, by the kindness of his widow, we are able to illustrate. It is a companion picture to his own and would seem to have been painted at about the same period, probably soon after Dr. Whistler came to London after serving under Lee in the American War. The placing of the head upon the canvas is most distinguished, and the colour is rich and harmoni- ous : there is but a slight suggestion of the bust, but nevertheless the effect is very satisfactory. From these portraits of himself and his brother it is natural to pass to the " Portrait of the Painter's Mother," which was exhibited at the Academy in 1872, and is now in the Luxembourg. Mr. Whistler called this picture an " Arrangement in Gray and Black," and protested that the fact of the original having been his mother was no concern of the public. "To me," he said, "it is interesting as a 1 The illustration which we print at the beginning of this volume is from the fine bust of the artist modelled in the seventies by Sir Edgar Boehm, R.A., now in the possession of Mr. Thomas Way, and we may here mention that there is in existence a very beautiful oil painting of the youthful Whistler, by Sir William Boxall, R.A. 40 PORTRAIT OF DR. W. McNEILL WHISTLER. an effect. The white cap, the lace cuffs and hand- kerchief, the delicate, beautiful hands — they seem so inevitable, all trace of the labour which wrought them is so perfectly concealed that you take them for granted, and admiration of the painter is swallowed up by delight in the beauty of his work. That such a picture as this should ever have been allowed to leave this country is nothing less than a national misfortune. Had anyone dreamt that Mr. Whistler would have consented to part with it, there could have been no difficulty in raising the sum required for the purchase. One wonders whether the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest had any misgivings when they heard that the French Government had secured this masterpiece for an insignificant sum ; and that its home was to be in the Luxembourg instead of in the National Gallery. With the portrait of the painter's mother must be classed that of Thomas Carlyle, which resembles it in general arrangement. There is, however, a very marked difference in the handling of the two pictures, the rugged strength of the great writer and critic being emphasized by the vigorous brush- work, especially in the painting of the head, while in the mother's portrait the treatment is made to accord with the sweetness and simplicity of the sitter. In the portrait of Carlyle the artist has certainly achieved his aim of " painting the man, as 42 PORTRAIT OF THOMAS CARLVLK. By permission of Henry Graves and Co. well as his features. " 1 1 is a marvellous study of char- acter, revealing' to us the whole nature and intellect of the man, the weariness of the philosopher near the end of his long life musing upon the folly and futility of human life. The painting was first seen at Mr. Whistler's exhibition in 1874, and was again exhibited in the first Grosvenor Gallery Exhibi- tion, in 1877. It was afterwards bought, in 1891, for ;£i,©oo by the Corporation of Glasgow, whose action, though it aroused much indignant protest at the time, has since been more than justified. The Corporation are indeed entitled to great credit, as the purchase of this picture — the first acquired by a public gallery, and the first for which an adequate price was paid — may be considered as the first step towards the public recognition of the artist's greatness. We turn from these portraits of an old man and an old woman to consider that of a child — Miss Alexander. " This little girl," says Mr. George Moore, 1 " is the very finest flower and the cul- minating point of Mr. Whistler's art. The eye travels over the canvas seeking a fault. In vain; nothing has been omitted that might have been included, nothing has been included that might have been omitted. There is much in Velasquez that is stronger, but nothing in this world ever 1 "Modern Painting," p. 15. 43 seemed to me so perfect as this picture." Few will consider this eulogy exaggerated. As becomes the subject, there is more gaiety in the setting of this picture than in the preceding. The girl stands facing to the left, with her foot advanced, against a gray-green background with black wainscotting below. She is dressed in white and holds a gray felt hat with a large feather in her hand. Above her head flutter two orange butter- flies, and there are some daisies on the right and a pile of draperies on the left. The figure is relieved from its background by an envelope of air which entirely surrounds it, and this is perhaps the most remarkable characteristic of the picture. You feel that you could pass behind the girl with ease, so per- fect is the suggestion of atmosphere. The model- ling of the face and of the legs and feet is perfect, and the picture is reminiscent of Velasquez, one of whose Infantas in the Louvre is recalled, as Mr. George Moore has pointed out, by the painting of the blonde hair. " There is also," adds the same critic, " something of Velasquez in the black notes of the shoes. Those blacks — are they not perfectly observed? How light and dry the colour is! How heavy and shiny it would have become in other hands; notice, too, that in the frock nowhere is there a single touch of pure white, and yet it is all white — a rich, luminous white that makes every 44 PORTRAIT OF MISS ROSA CORDER. By permission of Messrs. Henry Graves and Co. T. R. Annan and Sons photo.] THE FUR JACKET. other white in the gallery seem either chalky or dirty. What an enchantment and a delight the handling is! how flowing, how supple, infinitely and beautifully sure, the music of perfect accom- plishment !" The portrait of " Miss Rosa Corder," exhibited at the Grosvenor Gallery in 1879, is one of the many portraits in which Mr. Whistler painted the figure dressed in black against a background so dark as to appear black. Miss Corder was herself a painter of some distinction and it is possible that she inspired him in a different manner from his earlier sitters. As a result the picture, as a technical achievement, ranks among his finest works. In the subtle gradation of the flesh tints and complete absence of brushwork throughout, the picture suggests a fine Holbein portrait as much as a Velasquez, though the latter master is irresistibly recalled by the pose of the figure and the swing of the arm and hat. The softness of the edge of the profile of the head seen against the great depth of the background is nothing less than marvellous. Though somewhat similar in general treatment, the portrait known as " The Fur Jacket" (belong- ing to Mr. W. Burrell), represents a personality of a wholly different character, and her elegant and refined face contrasts strongly with the al- most masculine type of the " Rosa Corder." It is 45 a charming picture, and though not elaborated to the pitch of the earlier portrait, its winning grace suggests that, of the two, this would be the painting which one would sooner live with. While in touch with Mr. Leyland, Mr. Whistler painted full-length portraits of Mr. and Mrs. Ley- land and of their daughters. Of these only the two former, which were exhibited in 1874, were finished. Both Mr. and Mrs. Leyland are repre- sented standing, the former being in a frock coat with a cloak on his left arm, while Mrs. Leyland is painted in a pink robe, with her hands behind her back and her face turned in profile. At least three studies of Mr. Leyland's daughters were painted. One represents a young lady in a riding habit and silk hat standing against a dark brown panelled wall, on warm-coloured matting; in another the model, in a long white dress with a large white hat, stands on gray matting against a black background; while the third, the original " Blue Girl," a portrait of " Baby Leyland" (now Mrs. Val. Prinsep) was destroyed and cut up by Mr. Whistler. There remain, however, two beauti- ful paintings of blue jars full of flowers which formed part of the background. Later on he re- peated this same scheme of colour in the picture exhibited at the Grosvenor Gallery, and entitled " Scherzo in Blue." 46 Goupil and Co. photo.~\ PORTRAIT OF LADY MEUX. STUDY FOR A PORTRAIT OF "BABY LEYLAND. From a black and white drawing. I Of the three portraits which Mr. Whistler painted of Mrs. H. B. (afterwards Lady) Meux, the most important is the almost regal arrangement which represents the lady standing, dressed in evening robes of black velvet, and wearing a diamond tiara, necklace and bracelet, the rich costume being re- lieved from the dark background by a white fur cloak which hangs from her shoulders. This mag- nificent picture is known to but few of the painter's admirers. A better-known portrait (illustrated here) is that in which the full-length figure is shown in profile, the face only being turned to- wards the spectator. She is dressed in pink and silver-gray, and wears a large hat, the notes of the costume being repeated in the drapery which forms the background, and in the carpet on which she stands. Three full-length male portraits which have many characteristics in common may be classed together. They all represent men of genius, namely, Sir Henry Irving, M.Theodore Duret, the well-known critic, and Senor Pablo Sarasate, the violinist. The portrait of " Irving as Philip II. of Spain" was shown at the first Grosvenor Gallery exhibi- tion, in 1877, under the title of " Arrangement in Black No. 3." It is easy to understand how the artist must have been attracted by the idea of painting the great actor in his impersonation of the 47 King whose grandson sat so often to Velasquez; and the result, though from the period of the cos- tume naturally recalling the Spanish painter, is an original and powerful picture and a fine portrait. It is here illustrated, by permission of Sir Henry Irving, and is shown in the original frame, designed by the artist. M. Theodore Duret is represented in conven- tional evening dress, standing in front of a pale pink curtain. He carries an opera hat in his right hand and over his left arm a pink domino falls in folds to the ground. In this picture, although the artist was dealing with the definite black and white of a man's full dress, he has shown that it was not necessary for him to relieve a black figure against a dark background, but that he could produce an equally successful result with his model posed before a curtain of the palest tint. This most original and interesting portrait was exhibited at the Salon in 1885, and is here reproduced by the kindness of M. Duret, for the first time. In his portrait of Pablo Sarasate, exhibited at the Society of British Artists, 1885, Mr. Whistler was again dealing with a man of genius, and again he rose to the occasion. The famous violinist stands facing the spectator, or rather, as one cannot but feel, the audience, for he is in evening dress and holds his violin in his hand, being evidently about 48 IRVING AS PHILIP II. OF SPAIN. PORTRAIT OF STEVIE MANUEL. to play. The most noticeable quality in this por- trait perhaps is the extreme elegance of Sefior Sarasate's figure, and it curiously reminds one of Mr. Whistlers own appearance when he stood upon the platform of Prince's Hall to deliver the "Ten o'Clock" lecture. It has been objected to this and some others of Mr. Whistler's portraits that the semi-darkness in which the figures are placed is unnatural and unnecessary. The artist, however, liked to paint them so, and all we are concerned with is the fact that, in spite of the obscurity, the figures, as he said of Velasquez' portraits, "live within their frames and stand upon their legs," surrounded by air, and are not mere silhouettes painted against the studio wall At the same gallery was also shown the charming little portrait of Master Stevie Manuel which we illustrate. It is a scheme of very delicate grays and low-toned whites and exquisitely modelled. During his visit to Lyme Regis in 1895, Mr. Whistler painted two studies which may be classed as portraits — " The Master Smith of Lyme Regis," a vigorous half-length study of a blacksmith, a man evidently of great physical strength, combined with somewhat violent and uncurbed opinions, and " The Rose of Lyme Regis," a little girl whose sweet serious face looks out questioningly from the canvas. Both these pictures are now in the e 49 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Mass. Similar in treatment, and dating from about the same period, is the study " Lillie in our Alley," which by Mr. J. J. Cowan's permission we reproduce. A very beautiful but little known portrait is that of the late Mr. C. E. Holloway. This picture, which was hung under the title of " The Philo- sopher" at the exhibition of Holloway 's work at Messrs. Goupil's gallery, just before his death in 1897, is a miniature painting, a few inches only in height. Yet the full-length figure appears to stand at such a distance behind the frame that it has all the effect of a life-size portrait. At the time when this picture was exhibited, Mr. Holloway lay dying, in a state of great destitution, and it may not be out of place to recall the kindness and attention which Mr. Whistler showed to his friend and fellow- artist throughout his long illness. This little picture now belongs to the Comtesse de Beam. Mr. Whistler painted in the course of his career a large number of portraits which we cannot de- scribe here. It must suffice to mention those of Mrs. Huth, Mrs. Lewis Jarvis, Lady Archibald Campbell, Sir Henry Cole, Mr. Vanderbilt, and M. de Montesquiou. 50 Foster Bros., Boston, photo. ,] THE MASTER SMITH OF LYME REGIS. THE LITTLE ROSE OF LYME REGIS. BROWN AND GOLD- LILLIE IN OUR ALLEY CHAPTER V NOCTURNES, MARINES AND CHEVALET PIECES IT is in his landscapes and sea or river pieces that Mr. Whistler's work shows most marked divergence from that of other men. For he has treated many themes never before attempted — subjects which other painters have shirked, or in which they have felt no interest. No one before has seen the exquisite beauty and poetry of a scene from which all garish definition has faded away, leaving nothing but the mystery of twilight or the blackness of night, relieved perhaps by spots of golden light. Or if they have seen it, at least no one before him dared to paint such scenes. For to Mr. Whistler the distinctness, beloved of so many painters, is abhorrent. To him the mist is instinct with poetry, and, at the approach of night, all that is material, earthly, circumstantial, drops away, leaving the very spirit of Nature. In his own words, "when the evening mist clothes the riverside with poetry, as with a veil, and the 5i poor buildings lose themselves in the dim sky, and the tall chimneys become campanili, and the ware- houses are palaces in the night, and the whole city hangs in the heavens, and fairy-land is before us — then . . . Nature, who, for once, has sung in tune, sings her exquisite song to the artist alone, her son and her master— her son in that he loves her, her master in that he knows her." * He protests against the generally accepted view that " Nature is always right"; asserting, on the other hand, that she is usually wrong, "that is to say, the condition of things that shall bring about the perfection of harmony worthy a picture is rare, and not common at all." " Nature," he says, " con- tains the elements, in colour and form, of all pictures, as the keyboard contains the notes of all music. But the artist is born to pick, and choose, and group with science, these elements, that the result may be beautiful — as the musician gathers his notes, and forms his chords, until he bring forth from chaos glorious harmony." 2 Thus in his land- scapes, as in his figure-pictures, to Mr. Whistler the subject is ever of secondary importance ; he is not concerned with the detail of what he sees — the material fact does not appeal to him. Nature provides the excuse, so to say, for a colour scheme; the picture becomes a " Harmony in Blue 1 "Ten o'Clock," p. 15. 2 Ibid., p. 14. 52 and Yellow," a " Nocturne in Blue and Silver," a " Note in Blue and Opal," and the actual scene which provided the motive for the picture loses all significance. Yet one may safely assert that the painting itself is really absolutely like the sub- ject in nature which has inspired it. The artist has, however, seen the subject as a whole with a principal spot on which the eye has been focussed; and from this it has not turned to study in detail other unimportant parts which, grouped round that centre, have been combined to form the har- mony of the whole. The word " Nocturne " was suggested to Mr. Whistler by Mr. Leyland. " I can't thank you too much," the artist wrote, 1 " for the name ' Noc- turne ' as the title for my moonlights. You have no idea what an irritation it proves to the critics and consequent pleasure to me : besides, it is really so charming, and does so poetically say all I want to say and no more than I wish." 2 1 Letter to Mr. Leyland (undated), quoted in the "Art Journal," August, 1892. 2 When asked, at the Ruskin trial, the meaning of the wore "nocturne," Mr. Whistler said "that a picture was to him throughout a problem which he attempted to solve, and he made use of any incident or object in nature that would bring about a symmetrical result. Among his pictures were some night views, and he chose the word ' nocturne ' because it generalized and simplified them all" (" Times," November 26th, 1878). 53 The title inevitably suggests a musical comparison and it is perfectly true that to look at one of Mr. Whistler's nocturnes rouses the same feelings as are excited by listening to a Nocturne or a Ballade of Chopin — the same mystery and poetry, the same pure sense of beauty being common to both. The early nocturnes, indeed, both irritated and puzzled the critics, and the public, accustomed to look in a picture for a literal transcript from nature elaborated in every part, were utterly unable to understand what they were intended to represent. Mr. Whistler told a good story of how, at his earliest exhibition in 1874, a lady was completely puzzled by one of the nocturnes ; but her child, whose understanding had not been warped by convention, immediately cried, " Oh mother, look at the fireworks ! " Looking at nature with an eye supremely sus- ceptible to pictorial effect, and a mind strong enough to be unhampered by tradition, Mr. Whist- ler in fact, in these pictures, revealed the beauty and sublimity of the night to all who were capable of realizing them. Dr. Muther gives a fine descrip- tion of the scene which enabled him to understand one of the nocturnes which had puzzled him when he first saw it at Munich. " I learnt to understand it soon afterwards/' he says, 1 "when I was on the 1 " History of Modern Painting," vol. iii , p. 646 54 way to England. . . . The calm, dark water, through which the steamer glided with steady strokes, melted into the blue of the sky. All lines vanished. A sad veil of grayish-black dusk floated before one's eyes. But suddenly to the right the radiance of a beacon flared unsteadily, a great yellow disc, orbed and beaming like a huge planet. Farther back there was another showing fainter, and then a third, and then others — a whole alley of lights, each one surrounded by a great blue circle of atmosphere. And in the far background the host of lights in the distant town. . . . And if one looked farther down, all might be seen mirrored in the water in a thousand gold and silver reflections : a harmony of black and gold — a Whistler." Many similar experiences will be recalled by those who have spent afternoons in the artist's studio, which he rarely left while there was any trace of daylight remaining. On coming out of the house into the dim twilight of the streets, one seemed at once to see his pictures again, and to realize in the streets or on the river side, the beauty and poetry of subjects which one had often passed by in the open day with little notice. The fascination of the Thames fell upon the artist as soon as he took up his abode in Chelsea, and in painting, in etching, and in lithography he set forth its varying beauty, delighting in the pic- 55 turesqueness of the barges and shipping, and the quaint charm of the wharfs and warehouses on its banks. Indeed, in his love of London and the river he can be compared only with Mr. W. E. Henley, whose wonderful descriptions of nature seem almost like poetical interpretations of some of the artist's paintings. Might not Mr. Whistler have seen and immortalized on canvas such a scene as this ? " The smoke ascends In a rosy-and-golden haze. The spires Shine, and are changed. In the valley Shadows rise. The lark sings on. The sun, Closing his benediction, Sinks and the darkening air Thrills with a sense of the triumphing night." To artist and poet alike the mystery of the night, with the twinkle of lights through the darkness, the glamour of the morning mist, the gloom of gray London days, appealed more than the bright garish sunlight, and both were interested in atmo- sphere and colour rather than in definite form. " The Thames in Ice," which is illustrated here, is one of the earliest of Mr. Whistler's pictures, having been exhibited at the Academy in 1862, under the title of " The Twenty-fifth of December, 1 860, on the Thames." It represents a scene which would not have appealed at that time, in all prob- ability, to any other painter in England. The dark 56 T. R. Annan and Sons photo.] THE THAMES IN ICE. hulk of the brig stands out against the snow and ice on the river, and over the whole scene hangs the gloom of a London winter's day. This picture differs from the majority of Mr. Whistler's land- scapes in the tremendous vigour and force with which it is painted. The same qualities are notice- able in "The Last of Old Westminster," which represents the final demolition of the old bridge and the opening of the new. The picture is full of detail, and the rough brushwork seems to har- monize with the scene of strenuous labour. This picture was painted in 1862 and hung at the Academy next year. Mr. Whistler painted the ice on the Thames again in a picture entitled " Chelsea in Ice." Here the river is empty save for one tug which is heading down the river in the channel left in the ice, while some figures are leaning over the wall of the embankment in the foreground. A great contrast to these pictures is presented by the view of " Old Battersea Bridge" which was exhibited at the Academy in 1865, and is now in the possession of Mr. Edmund Davis. It is very highly finished, no brushwork being visible. In the foreground is a group of watermen round a boat, while out in the river is a barge loaded with oil-barrels. To the left the bridge, on which are some carts and foot-passengers, rises in a long curve across the river, on the further side of which 57 the buildings fade away into the distance, the Crystal Palace being visible on the horizon. The picture is very quiet in colour, the gray-green river, the brown bridge, and the red roofs of some of the buildings on the Surrey side giving the prevailing notes. Here, as in all Mr. Whistlers landscapes, the sense of atmosphere is one of the first things which strikes the spectator. In all his paintings one feels as though one were looking at the canvas in its frame as through a window, and the scene falls back behind it with an incomparable suggestion of space. In some of his smallest pictures this effect of space is even more noticeable than in his largest canvases, the scale being reduced, and the scene seeming to fall back to the natural distance. In this painting of atmosphere it is safe to say that Mr. Whistler has never been ap- proached. The picture entitled " Pink and Gray — Chelsea " is another good example of his early manner. It is one of the many paintings representing the reach of the river opposite the artist's house in Lindsay Row, from one of the windows of which it was painted. Though the figures are in mid-Victorian costume, the treatment is strongly reminiscent of Hiroshige. Indeed, the statement made at the beginning of this chapter, that no one before had 53 PINK AND GRAY — CHELSEA. attempted many of the effects which Mr. Whistler has painted with such success, should have been qualified by the exception of the great Japanese artist. The influence of Hiroshige is unmistak- able in the nocturnes. Take, for instance, the famous " Nocturne in Blue and Silver— Old Bat- tersea Bridge." The black bridge silhouetted in the foreground, the brilliant lights of the falling rockets, emphasizing the infinite depth of the sky behind, the whole picture flooded with the pale bright moonlight, form just such a scene as Hiro- shige might have painted. And in the treatment, individual and personal as Mr. Whistler's is, the subtle gradations of colour, the massing of light and shade, and the avoidance of all detail which might detract from the decorative simplicity of the picture, are all qualities which may frequently be found in Hiroshige's colour-prints. Such effects of artificial light have always appealed strongly to Mr. Whistler, and in " The Falling Rocket," " The Fire- Wheel," " Cremorne Lights," and many another nocturne, he has created ex- quisite poems in colour, before which the spectator can only stand in silent admiration, wondering at " the amazing invention which has put form and colour into such perfect harmony that exquisite- ness is the result." 1 " The Fire- Wheel," which 1 "Ten o'Clock," p. 18. 59 was exhibited at the Grosvenor Gallery in 1883, and is now in the possession of Mr. Studd, is a typical example. It represents a scene in Cremorne Gardens at night, with groups of people watching a display of fireworks. The circle of spectators in shadow is broken in the centre of the picture, and through the gap is seen the inner ring with figures illumined by the light of the great Catherine wheel on the right. Lights twinkle among the trees which rise up on the left, while the spent sparks of an expiring rocket fall slowly through the darkness. Mr. Studd also owns a very beautiful nocturne entitled " Chelsea Reach." It is a harmony in opal, representing a bright moonlight night on the river, whose wide expanse, unbroken by shipping of any kind, stretches away into the distance. Spots of golden light are visible along the banks and are reflected in the still water, and the whole scene is bathed in luminous air. A very similar and perhaps even more important picture is the " Nocturne in Blue and Silver, No. 1," which, by the kindness of Mrs. F. R. Leyland, we are able to reproduce. It represents a moonlight scene on the Thames, look- ing up Battersea Reach, and was one of the pictures exhibited at the first Grosvenor Gallery exhibition in 1877, and afterwards brought into court by the artist in the Ruskin trial. Another Chelsea nocturne is the " harmony in gray 60 and gold" to which Mr. Whistler referred in the quotation given on page 20. This picture, which is entitled "Chelsea — Snow," represents an ordinary London snow-scene at night. The wide street, thickly covered with snow, is entirely empty save for one black figure, and the scene is illumin- ated by the brilliant lights from the tavern windows. It is evident that reproductions in black and white can convey no adequate impression of the beauty of such pictures as these. The large noc- turne study of Cremorne Gardens, however, which we illustrate, has so much life in it that it might almost be classed among the figure-subjects, and even a monochrome reproduction is not without value. The picture contains many figures, full of vitality, gliding about the gardens in the twilight beneath the trees, in which twinkle coloured lights. In the background the river forms a band of light across the picture beyond the dark grass. There is a portrait-sketch of the master himself sitting under the tree on the right. The whole is very beautiful in low-toned colours. Of another of the nocturnes Mr. Walter Sickert has given so beautiful and poetical a description that we cannot forbear to quote it : l " The 1 Nocturne in Blue and Silver — Bognor' can never be surpassed. The blue of the summer sea, 1 "Whistler To-day," " Fortnightly Review," April, 1892. 61 growing black with intensity at the horizon, the silent stars, the ghostly wreaths of cloud trailing in the watery sky. Four little boats hover like great moths and melt their phantom sails in a dusky sea. Three show lights that glimmer on the water. Though it is night, it is light enough to see the white foam turned over by the bows of the two nearer boats. That on the far right is going about under your very eyes, leaving a white track in the wondrous water. The waves creep in while they seem not to move, ex- cept where they curl and break and tumble at your feet on a dusky shore. You are conscious at the water's edge of shadowy figures going about their mysterious business with the night. All these things and a million-fold more are expressed in this immortal canvas, with a power and a ten- derness that I have never seen elsewhere. The whole soul of the universe is in the picture, the whole spirit of beauty. It is an example and a summary of all art. It is an act of divine creation. The man that created it is thereby alone immortal a thousand times over." At Valparaiso Mr. Whistler painted several pic- tures, " The Ocean," the " Crepuscule in Flesh- colour and Green," which represents the harbour seen from a height, full of shipping and lit by the afterglow of the sunset, and the " Nocturne in 62 Goupil and Co. photo.} NOCTURNE IN BLUE AND GOLD — VALPARAISO. &. Blue and Gold," now in the possession of Mr. McCulloch, by whose permission it is illustrated here. In this a number of ships are seen across the harbour, in which their lights, as well as their hulls and rigging, are reflected. Behind is a line of low hills, and in the foreground is a landing-stage, on which a crowd of figures is dimly seen in the twi- light. Of this picture a very interesting unfinished study exists. It was evidently painted earlier in the day than the finished picture, and no doubt while painting it Mr. Whistler observed the night effect, and realized how much more picturesque the scene became with the golden lights twinkling on board the ships in the sapphire blue of the twi- light. The composition of the two pictures is almost identical, and in both there is the same delightful incident of the distant vessel, slowly sailing past, so perfectly suggested that it is difficult to believe it is not actually moving. It must not, however, be supposed that Mr. Whist- ler painted nothing but nocturnes or gray days. On the contrary, he never shirked brilliance of effect and full sunlight, when it appealed to him, as for instance in " The Blue Wave — Biarritz. " And in recent years he has exhibited many small paintings, such as "The Sun Cloud" and "The Angry Sea," which we illustrate, where he treats the full broad light of day with complete definition 63 of all those details which he wishes us to see with him ; yet all lies so far behind the window of the frame and is so bathed in air that we seem to feel the real spirit of nature instead of a mere photo- graphic record. " The Little Sweet-Stuff Shop " is perhaps the best example of many tiny panels which he de- lighted to paint in his later years. In a little window in a cottage, serving the purpose of a shop, are displayed an assortment of bottles of sweets, oranges and other fruits to tempt the children grouped around its fascinating luxuries. The minute care with which these seemingly trivial matters are rendered is beyond praise. " The Nocturne in Brown and Gold — Chelsea Rags/' is a night version of a very similar subject. This is illustrated here by permission of Mr. J. J. Cowan, to whom also belong the charming little picture of " Dieppe — Blue and Silver" and "The Cure's Little Class," an interesting study of the interior of a quaint old church at Honfleur. 6 4 Li /fisiiiiii DIEPPE — BLUE AND SILVER. CHAPTER VI ETCHINGS IN etching Mr. Whistler has always been admitted, even from the first, as a master. During his studies in Paris he was associated with such men as Bracquemond and Legros, and his relationship to Sir Seymour Haden must also have helped to attract him towards those exquisite qualities which etching or drypoint on copper alone can give. If we make a careful comparison of any fairly good collection of Mr. Whistler's plates with those of any other great etcher, it will be seen that in his etchings of buildings, towns, rivers, and sea-pieces, and even in his portraits, Rembrandt is his only rival. He is more pictorial and painter-like in treatment than Meryon, great as the latter was in architecture. Of course Rem- brandt is supreme, and always will remain so, in his great figure-subjects, and his portraits are un- surpassed, though there are single figures and por- traits by Mr. Whistler which can hang beside them and live, having qualities all their own. But in the F 65 other subjects, which form by far the greater bulk of the later master's work, the astonishing variety and exquisite beauty of the pictures he has etched, the marvellous certainty of line enabling him to give the most brilliant results with the fewest possible touches, and withal the feeling of colour which is ever present in his slightest black-and- white work, place his etchings quite on a pinnacle by themselves, even beyond Rembrandt's treat- ment of similar themes. " In Art," Mr. Whistler has said, 1 " it is criminal to go beyond the means used in its exercise/' and "the space to be covered should always be in proper relation to the means used for covering it." It follows that in etching, "the means used being the finest possible point, the space to be covered should be small in proportion. All at- tempts to overstep the limits insisted on by such proportions are inartistic thoroughly, and tend to reveal the paucity of the means used, instead of concealing the same, as required by art in its refine- ment. The huge plate, therefore, is an offence — its undertaking an unbecoming display of deter- mination and ignorance — its accomplishment a triumph of unthinking earnestness and uncon- trolled energy." Acting, as ever, up to his artistic principles, 1 " Gentle Art of Making Enemies," p. 76. 66 Mr. Whistler produced in the course of his career a series of etchings and drypoints which, though they display a consummate mastery of technique, never overstep in the slightest degree the " pro- prieties " of their medium. The power of inter- preting the spirit of a scene, rather than the actual facts, is as apparent in his etchings as in his paint- ings, and he is able to create the effect of space and atmosphere with the needle as certainly as with the brush. The etchings display a power of observation which nothing that is picturesque can escape, combined with a faculty of selection which takes all that it wants, and absolutely ignores everything else. To these qualities, which enable the artist to find material for his plates in what would appear to ordinary observers most unpromising subjects, must be added a feeling for line, a freedom and precision of handling, and an absolute command over the medium, such as no etcher since Rem- brandt has possessed in equal measure. Mr. Whistler's earliest etching is said to have been made on one of the maps which he should have been engraving for the United States Coast Survey; but his first published plates are the series of thirteen known as the " Little French Set," which appeared in 1858. Of these the " Street at Saverne" is interesting as being, perhaps, Mr. 67 Whistlers first nocturne; and " La Marchande de Moutarde" and " The Kitchen/' which was after- wards retouched and issued by the Fine Art Society in 1885, have very beautiful chiaroscuro effects. But the series as a whole has no great charm, though displaying considerable technical skill. A fine plate executed during the same period is " The Rag-Gatherers" — a squalid interior with two figures at the back, very suggestive and powerful in effect. Many figure-subjects followed, of which " Annie Seated," one of the most beauti- ful of the many portraits of Miss Annie Haden, and " Bibi Lalouette," a charming study of a boy sitting on a sloping bank, may be specially men- tioned. A marvellous little still-life study, entitled " The Wine-Glass," also done at this time, may be compared with Rembrandt's " Shell." After these came the famous " Thames Set," con- sisting of sixteen etchings and drypoints, most of which were exhibited at the Royal Academy be- tween 1859 and 1863, though they were not issued publicly until 1871. The Thames offered Mr. Whistler subjects for his needle in endless variety. He revelled in the lines of the barges, the rows of warehouses forming a background to the tangle of shipping, and the effects of light and shade, the beauty of which we can all see now that he has taught us, but which forty years ago no one else, 68 O fe 3 u except perhaps M. J. Tissot, had thought worthy of recording. In the Thames etchings a very definite line is used, and in many of the prints, such as " West- minster Bridge" and "Thames Police," the effect is hard and dry in comparison with the later etch- ings. There is in most of them a very considerable elaboration of detail ; in the " Rotherhithe," for instance, which is here reproduced, 1 every brick in the building on the right is carefully drawn, in order to produce the desired effect of colour. This plate is one of the strongest and most vigorous of the series. Two bargees are sitting in the foreground smoking long clay pipes, their faces being very highly finished. On the left is a vessel with masts and rigging, also drawn most elaborately, and in the distance a long row of warehouses lines the curve of the river, which is full of shipping. A huge wooden structure forms a kind of frame to the whole picture. Equally rich in effect is " The Lime-Burner," in which a distant glimpse of the river is seen through a confused tangle of timber roofs and buildings, while the lime-burner, sur- rounded by ladders, a sieve and a barrel, stands in the middle of the plate against a white wall. Both of these etchings present very beautiful effects 1 It is impossible in small reproductions to convey any idea of the quality of these etchings. 6 9 of light and shade. One of the best known of the Thames series is the " Black Lion Wharf," here illustrated. It is a typical scene on the river — or rather the river as it was in 1859 — showing a lighterman in his barge in the foreground, and behind, across the river, a row of warehouses and dwelling-houses. As in " The Pool/' " Thames Police," " Thames Warehouses from the Tunnel Pier," " Eagle Wharf," and others of the series, the buildings are very carefully and elaborately drawn, yet the extraordinary amount of detail does not detract from the breadth of the impression, nor suggest that any pictorial effect has been sacri- ficed. In most of these prints the background is filled with a medley of masts and shipping, but in " Vauxhall Bridge," a beautiful etching done at this time but not included in the Thames series, the general order is reversed ; a barge with a con- fused mass of sails and rigging entirely fills the foreground, while, behind, the river is spanned by the bridge, through the arches of which a distant line of buildings is visible. Before leaving the Thames etchings mention must be made of two plates which distinguish themselves from the rest by their amazing delicacy, namely, those known as " Old Hungerford Bridge" and " Cadogan Pier." In the former the line of the old suspension bridge extends right across the 70 ROTHERHITHE. From an etching. picture, while a number of steamers and other craft are lying in the foreground. The reflections in the water are exquisite, and in the far distance the buildings down the river are indicated with great subtlety of touch. " Cadogan Pier," which may be compared with the lithograph entitled " Early Morning," is a poetical etching of the river off Battersea, in the morning mist, when "a com- mon grayness silvers everything." Besides the sixteen plates included in the Thames series, Mr. Whistler executed during the next twenty years many more etchings of the river. Among these the most important are the ''Billings- gate" (afterwards published in the "Portfolio"), " Chelsea Wharf," the " Little Limehouse," " Bat- tersea — Dawn," " The Large Pool," and two large etchings of Old Battersea Bridge and Old Putney Bridge. The majority of the etchings or drypoints exe- cuted during this period, however, were figure- subjects — portraits and studies from the model. The portraits display the same penetrating ob- servation, the same power of selection, the same grace of line, and the same sureness of touch which characterize the later portraits drawn on the stone. The "Becquet" (also called "The Fiddler"), a dreamy portrait of a young man holding a violoncello between his legs, the 7i " Astruc," a fine vigorous head of a man with an expectant expression, the beautiful portrait of him- self in a broad hat, with bushy hair, and the ex- quisitely drawn " Riault the Engraver " are the finest of the men's portraits ; while the " Finette," a lady in a black velvet dress and huge crinoline, standing at a window through which is seen a dis- tant view of Paris, and the " Annie Haden " show once more how the artist may triumph over the accidental ugliness of dress. Of all the portraits, however, that entitled " Weary," a beautiful study of a girl lying back in a chair, every line express- ing fatigue, and the portrait of Florence Leyland, with its perfect grace of line and pose, are perhaps the most completely satisfying. The next published set was the first series of Venice etchings, exhibited by the Fine Art Society after Mr. Whistler's return from Venice at the end of 1880, and published by them at fifty guineas for the set of twelve. A second series of twenty- six etchings — of which twenty-one were Venetian subjects — was exhibited and published by Messrs. Dowdeswell in 1886. In general, the Venice etchings differ from the earlier Thames series by a greater softness and richness of effect. As a rule, much less detail is given, but the plates possess far more colour and atmosphere. The later impressions of many of the 72 WEARY. From an etching. Venice series differ from the earlier, as the artist in printing them at first painted the reflections of the buildings in the water with the printing ink on the plate, but afterwards obtained these effects with drypoint. That Mr. Whistler did not need the smoke and mist of London to inspire him is most abundantly shown by these Venice plates. Here he had to deal with brilliant clear atmosphere, yet he could give us just as much effect of space as he could in a silvery Thames nocturne. We may specially mention the " Little Venice," an astonishingly brilliant etching, in which the city is seen across the lagoons from a distant island, spread out along the horizon in a thin line. The water in the fore- ground is broken only by a few of the tall posts used by the gondolas. It may be noted that this plate was bitten once only — a remarkable proof of his technical skill. The same amazing effect of distance is produced in many others of the Venice etchings — such as "The Little Lagoon," " San Giorgio," the " Upright Venice," and the "Long Venice." Much richer in effect, and with more elaboration of detail than is usual in this series, is " The Doorway," a beautiful view of what has once been a palace. The huge doorway with three arches faces us, with steps leading to the water. Some figures are 73 seen in the opening and, within, chairs are hang- ing from the roof. The fine architecture of the exterior, with the rich tracery of the windows, is very beautifully indicated, and the water in the foreground is wonderfully transparent. Somewhat similar and equally fine are "The Balcony " and "The Palaces" and "The Two Doorways/' the four prints showing superb draughtsmanship and very effective contrasts of light and shade. In " The Furnace," a nocturne in which through a square opening in a wall at the side of a canal is seen an interior brilliantly lighted by a furnace, the effect of chiaroscuro is still more exquisite. It is impossible to speak of more than a few of the Venice series, and where all reach so high a pitch of excellence it is difficult to make any satis- factory selection. But mention must be made of " The Traghetto " — the ferry seen through a dark archway, while in front a group of men are sitting at a cafe, and a tree with falling leaves shows white against the darkness behind ; the " Quiet Canal," a beautiful view of a canal curving be- tween two rows of buildings, with very delicate reflections in the water; "The Piazzetta," the Square of St. Mark's in full sunlight, crowded with figures; and "Salute — Dawn," a marvellous dry- point which shows the sun rising over a group of buildings and domes, across a wide expanse of 74 M 5 ^ water. The qualities of this plate, which has but the slightest drypoint skeleton, depend upon the most wonderful printing, each impression being really a painting by Mr. Whistler upon the copper. Speaking of the Venice etchings, Mr. Wedmore, in the introduction to his " Catalogue," confesses that " some of us thought at first they were not satisfactory, because they did not record the Venice which the cultivated tourist, with his guide-books and his volumes of Ruskin, goes out from London to see. . . . The architecture of Venice had im- pressed us, perhaps, so profoundly that it was not easy in a moment to realize that here was a great artist whose work it had not been permitted to dominate. The Past and its record were not his business in Venice. For him, the lines of the steamboat, the lines of the fishing-tackle, the shadow under the squalid archway, the wayward vine of the garden, had been as fascinating, as en- gaging, as worthy of chronicle, as the Domes of St. Mark's." Mr. Wedmore goes on to point out, what is indeed one of the first things which strike the student of Mr. Whistler's work at the present day, that the artist had from the first cut himself adrift from literary and historical associations. " His subject was what he saw, or what he decided to see, and not something that he had heard about it. He had dispensed from the beginning with 75 those aids to the provocation of interest which ap- peal most strongly to the world — to the person of sentiment, to the literary lady, to the man in the street. We were to be interested — if we were in- terested at all — in the happy accidents of line and light he had perceived, in his dexterous record, in his scientific adaptation." At the present time there is far greater appreciation of the beauty of line and light, apart from the actual subject, whether of a painting or an etching, than there was twenty years ago ; and to this healthy education of public taste the work and the writings of Mr. Whistler have contributed perhaps more than anything else. There is certainly no lack of appreciation of the Venice etchings now, though many collectors still prefer the earlier Thames series. Of later etchings we may mention a Jubilee set done during the review of the Fleet at Spithead in 1887 and the Amsterdam series. Some of the latter are of great importance, especially l< Zaan- dam," a view of a canal with flat-bottomed boats, and behind a great plain with windmills ; two noc- turnes, entitled " Dance House " and " Balcony, Amsterdam"; and above all the wonderful "Long House, Dyers, Amsterdam." This print represents a line of outbuildings on the edge of a canal, with figures here and there, and the houses rising up behind. A large amount of detail is introduced, 76 and the reflections in the water are very brilliant. The whole is very soft and full of atmosphere, and the plate must rank with the finest of modern etchings. We understand that Mr. Whistler has left yet another series of French plates, mostly subjects in Brittany and Paris, which had been shown to but few people at the time of his death. 77 CHAPTER VII LITHOGRAPHS LITHOGRAPHY is the youngest of the Arts. Indeed the centenary of Senefelder's inven- tion almost coincided with Mr. Whistler's own exhibition in the Fine Art Society's Galleries in 1895. Hence, when he began to use this medium, there was no very long list of distinguished artists whose work on the stone might have crystallized its possibilities and demonstrated its limitations. Daumier and Gavarni, it is true, had made many lithographs. But the former used it merely as the readiest means of producing his political cartoons, rarely attempting to obtain the finer results which it offers to those who understand it. Gavarni, on the other hand, seemed to take delight in utilizing to the utmost of his ability its peculiar effects both with point and stump. In more recent years M. Fantin-Latour adopted the process, and has made a great number of important prints in his own de- lightful manner. But it remained for Mr. Whistler 7 8 5 -a to show all the possibilities of lithography, and to carry it to a pitch undreamed of before. It was in 1878 that Mr. Thomas Way first drew his attention to the art, and it at once appealed to him as a means whereby he could express himself in the most direct manner, either with extreme delicacy or with great force. It is certain that he could not in any other medium have created the marvellously tender " Early Morning," or the solemn " Nocturne," " The Thames," " The Forge," and " The Smith " of the Passage du Dragon, with their mysterious depths, or the beautiful drawing of " St. Giles in the Fields," with its perfect suggestion of the colour of the stone- work, bleached by the rain of many years. He has worked on the stone itself, or on transfer paper, as he felt that the subject required. If he wished to draw direct on the stone, e.g. in some of the river subjects, the weight and inconvenience never pre- vented him from taking stones out with him, while at other times he worked in his studio from the model, or, as in the " Nocturne," relied entirely on his memory. The larger number of his litho- graphs, it is true, were begun on various sorts of transfer paper, but in many cases he afterwards touched and retouched them, to such an extent that in the perfect proof which eventually resulted, the preliminary work on paper was only of secondary 79 importance compared with the work done direct on the stone. This is notably the case with the drawings already mentioned of " The Forge," and " The Smith" of the Passage du Dragon, some of the Lyme Regis forge subjects and many of the portraits. One peculiar and amazing characteristic of Mr. Whistler in his treatment of lithography arose, no doubt, out of his vast experience as a printer of his own etchings. He always saw — be- yond the actual drawing in wash or chalk — the printed proof at which he was aiming ; an apparent failure in the first proof did not dishearten him, but by touching and retouching he worked on the stone until he obtained the effect he wanted — straining indeed the ability of his printer to the utmost, but never deceived in the ultimate ca- pacity of lithography to give him all he asked for. The earliest lithographs, after one or two figure studies, were a series of river subjects in lithotint, and it is remarkable that new as the medium was to Mr. Whistler, these prints — " Limehouse," " Nocturne," " Early Morning," and " The Toilet" — to which may be added " The Broad Bridge," and "The Tall Bridge," in which wash was com- bined with chalk outline — are not only most ex- quisite works of art in themselves, but masterpieces from the technical point of view. They may, in- 80 THE TALL BRIDGE. From a lithograph. deed, be said to have marked an epoch in the history of the art, for though Hulmandel had per- fected a process of drawing in wash in the early part of the last century, the secret had died with him, and it was only after many years of experi- ment that Mr. Way succeeded in discovering a satisfactory process of wash- lithography. Nash and Cattermole had, it is true, used wash, but they had produced nothing at all comparable with these drawings by Mr. Whistler, which must indeed have come as a revelation to other lithographers, while by the ordinary public they were ignored or passed by as uninteresting puzzles. It was at first intended to issue a limited number of proofs to subscribers at intervals, as new prints should be ready, but the response was so limited that not more than half a dozen copies each of the " Lime- house" and" Nocturne" were so published. 1 Later, in 1887, Mr. Whistler issued a portfolio of six lithographs under the title of " Notes," but the in- terest taken in the medium was still so slight, and so unintelligent, that the critic of the " Magazine of Art " described them as " delightful sketches in 1 The other four prints mentioned were produced for a magazine called " Piccadilly," of which Mr. Theodore Watts- Dunton was editor. Unfortunately " Piccadilly " soon finished its short career, and only "The Toilet" and "The Broad Bridge " appeared in its pages. G 8l Indian ink and crayon — interesting as correct sketches, but unworthy the glories of facsimile re- production. " These early prints show that Mr. Whistler had already seen the possibilities of the medium in which he was working, and been able to turn them to magnificent effect. They are quite unlike in handling. The " Limehouse " shows a group of old houses, surrounded by ships and barges, the whole being very strong in colour, and worked with broad touches. The " Nocturne " — a scene on the river at Battersea — is in pure wash, printed on blue-gray paper. In the foreground is a barge with a man standing in it, and behind, across the river, a long line of buildings, broken by towers and chimneys. Some steamers lie in the middle of the river, and their lights are reflected in the water. The whole gives that sense of sombre mystery and poetry which one always associates with the river at night. In the " Early Morning" the same buildings appear on the right, half-veiled in the morning mist, while in the distance is seen the dim line of the bridge, through which flows The ancient River, singing as he goes, New-mailed in morning, to the ancient Sea. The effect is of the utmost delicacy and beauty, and the " atmosphere " of the picture is truly 82 •"..-' ^§ THE TOILET. From a lithograph. amazing. This drawing was made for " Piccadilly," but never published, and only a few impressions exist. The same is the case with " The Tall Bridge/' a most picturesque drawing of old Bat- tersea Bridge. Two of the great wooden piers are shown, seen from the level of the river, and in the distance, between the piers, is a low line of build- ings with chimneys. The water in the foreground in which the piers are reflected is wonderfully transparent, and the whole effect is one of great size and space. All these drawings were made in 1878, and a few were added next year, but after that there was a long break, and it was not until 1887 that Mr. Whistler again turned to lithography. During the next ten years he produced about a hundred and twenty prints, which stand quite alone in the his- tory of art, and have served to raise lithography from the low commercial level to which it had fallen, and to show for the first time the infinite possibilities of which the medium is capable. They display great variety, both in subject and treat- ment and include portraits, studies from the model, both nude and draped, picturesque bits of London streets and buildings, scenes in Paris and Brittany, garden scenes, smithies and forges, drawings in stump, line and wash, occasionally even in colour. The figure studies are of excep- 83 tional interest, and many of them are entirely classical in feeling. "The Little Nude Model Reading" may be especially mentioned, as its extreme delicacy and refinement, and its beauty of line, render it one of the most charming of all Mr. Whistler's prints. " By his drawing of the nude," says Mrs. Pennell, 1 "the measure of an artist's capacity — or incapacity — may be judged. By it he stands convicted of perfection or of failure as it may be and too often is. There is nothing more difficult in art than to draw the figure, and the difficulty is increased a hundredfold when the medium is as inexorable as the lithographic chalk. These studies have been likened more than once to the work of Tanagra; and justly, for theirs is the same flawless daintiness, the same purity of pose, the same harmony of line, the same grace of colour. And slight as they may seem to the casual amateur, in them you have the firm foundation, the groundwork as it were, of the art that bears as its perfect flower the harmonies on the Thames, and in the Luxembourg gardens, the incomparable portraits." Mr. Whistler's portraits on stone have, as the same critic has observed, the subtlety and elegance and dignity of his portraits on canvas. "The 1 " The Master of the Lithograph " (" Scribner's Magazine," March, 1897). 84 ■ r i Winged Hat," a seated figure of a lady, published in " The Whirlwind," with its companion which appeared in "The Studio" under the title of "Gants de Suede," " La Belle Dame Endormie," " The Doctor," a portrait of Dr. W. Whistler, the artist's brother, the portraits of Stephane Mallarme and Mr. Joseph Pennell, and many others, are full of colour and life, and display a wonderful firmness and surety of touch, combined with the distinction of style which is never absent from the artist's work. It is not our purpose to give a complete list of the lithographs, though it is difficult to avoid dwelling on each and all of the prints, so varied are they in manner and charm. In each the subject has sug- gested its own treatment, as it should do to every artist — yet of how few men's work can this be said ! The group of smaller London subjects, dating from 1 887- 1 890 — the two drawings at St. Bartholomew's and those of Chelsea shops and houses — and the figure subjects of this date, were characterized by a certain clearness and firmness of line, extremely delicate in colour, due, perhaps, in a measure, to the character of the transfer paper which Mr. Whistler was then using. When he went to Brit- tany, though using the same paper, he began to employ the stump in addition to the simple chalk point, on which he had previously relied when 85 working on paper. The result was an immediate broadening of effect, the quality given by the stumping being almost like brush-work. " The Canal — Vitre," with its soft cloudy sky and liquid water was the first note in this development, which culminated in the astounding series of the Luxem- bourg Gardens, the " Draped Figure Seated," and the " Nude Model Reclining." In these drawings there is much greater strength of colour and force than in the earlier London series. The master, however, was not yet satisfied, but continued to experiment with his materials. In " The Terrace, Luxembourg," " The Laundress," and other draw- ings, we find him again using the simple chalk, but with a softer and fuller-toned line, and he also tried other transfer papers, which enabled him to obtain, in the " Rue Furstenburg," " La Robe Rouge," and " The Sisters," a line of so soft and rich a quality that it might almost have been drawn with the stump throughout. These two methods were again combined in " The Forge " and " The Smith " of the Passage du Dragon already men- tioned. In 1895 he was at Lyme Regis, where the quaint windows and doorways of the old town, with groups of children and picturesque forges inspired a series of most interesting prints — notably " The Smith's Yard," in which he has drawn a couple of cart-horses 86 as perfectly as any animal specialist has ever done. Next year came a group of portraits of Mr. Pen- nell, one of Mrs. Pennell, and one of Mr. Thomas Way by firelight — all excellent as likenesses, but most unconventional in effect. There were also several other portraits at this time — the best known being the " Little Evelyn." In the same year, 1896, he was staying at the Savoy Hotel during Mrs. Whistler's illness, and here — mostly from its windows — he drew what is perhaps his finest group of lithographs. To mention three only of the eight: the " Little London," a view of the broad river with the curving sweep of the Em- bankment and its buildings culminating in the Dome of St. Paul's is a drawing small indeed in the inches covered, but suggesting the great city in a manner which can only be described as vast in its truth of effect. In great contrast to this delicate and suggestive print is that technical masterpiece of lithography, the great wash drawing entitled "The Thames." Here the buildings and Shot Tower on the Surrey side are represented seen from a great height, with the river sweeping past full of barges, and below in the foreground the Em- bankment, with many figures and vehicles seen through the tracery of the branches of the trees in the gardens. So complete and full in tone and detail is this lithograph that it is not to be won- 27 dered at that Mr. Whistler was awarded the gold medal at the Paris Exhibition in 1899, where it was hung with a group of his etchings. But if these two prints, so different in treatment, com- mand our admiration, what words can describe the beauty of " The Siesta," a study — how tender ! — of the artist's wife lying on a couch with an open book on her knees, all white save the rich dark hair? In the pathos of the subject and the delicacy of the drawing it equals — it cannot surpass — the " Mother's Portrait." To these succeeded the " St. Anne's, Soho," and " St. Giles in the Fields," the beginnings of a pro- jected series of London churches which, had it been continued, would have struck a new note in his art, and a portrait sketch of Mr. W. E. Henley, the poet who has immortalized the beauty of London in verse as Mr. Whistler has on canvas, and whose death preceded that of the artist by a few days only. With these and one or two more the chapter is closed, and lithography mourns her master. 83 CHAPTER VIII PASTELS, WATER COLOURS AND DECORATIVE WORK NOTHING strikes the student of Mr. Whist- ler's work as more remarkable than the variety of the media he used. Painting in oil and water colour, drawing in pastel and in black and white, etching, lithography, and interior decoration — each was mastered in its turn, and to each afresh note was added. An indefatigable worker, he probably gained the relief which nature insists upon by changing his medium; for he never rested from pictorial work of one kind or another. His use of pastel was, indeed, a revelation of the capa- bilities of that charming material. It is, of course, by no means a new form of art, and the old schools of pastellists had a recognized manner of treat- ment — a style which may very well be described as painting in pastel. The colours were laid on in great quantity all over the ground, and blended and softened by stumping to approximate as nearly as possible to the finish and effect of an oil 8 9 painting. Very often the drawings were made life-size, with the inevitable result that in the course of years the surface colours have fallen down and may be seen resting on the edge of the frame. Mr. Whistler used the chalks with de- finite incisive touches, always allowing the paper upon which he worked to show largely in the finished picture. He almost invariably used brown paper, and was very particular in selecting the exact shade of colour he required to suit the sub- ject in hand. For many years he made studies in pastel for his portraits and other paintings, and although in so doing he produced many most exquisite and perfect works of art, he probably did not regard them as final works in themselves. His manner of using the material was always the same from the beginning — a clear outline of the subject in black on the brown paper, and then firm decisive strokes of colour, occasionally softened with a stump. The studies which are illustrated in facsimile in this volume will perhaps explain this treatment. They are both very early draw- ings, made probably about 1872, since the finished pictures — a "White Girl" and the " Portrait of Mrs. Leyland" — were exhibited in Pall Mall in 1874. Many similar studies exist, notably a brilliant scheme for a " Blue Girl," of which he endeavoured to paint a life-sized picture at least three times, 90 STUDY FOR A PORTRAIT OF MRS. LEYLAND. From the pastel. / /'" I x r j a 1 if <<T^ li^fc r A V> X •••.. il J (wi J w ■>,-■ J I s Miss Leyland being the model on one occasion and Connie Gilchrist on another; while the third was exhibited at the Grosvenor Gallery under the title of " Scherzo in Blue." None of them, how- ever, succeeded in attaining to the radiant harmony of the pastel, and perhaps this was hardly to be expected. Pastel colours, by their very nature, being unadulterated by any fixative, as are oil or water colours, remain on the surface of the paper exactly as the artist first puts them down, in their original gem-like brilliancy; unfortunately these qualities are gained at the expense of permanence, the drawing being liable to complete destruction from an accidental rub. Mr. Whistler made many beautiful studies of nude figures, mostly with transparent drapery of brilliant colour, quite classical in character ; they are harmonies in blue, green and purple, with flesh colour, often with a suggestion of sea and sky as a background. There are also many studies for portraits in black and white on brown paper, such as that of " Baby Leyland " ; and outline studies of the nude, such as the preliminary draw- ings for the picture of " The Three Girls," some of which are as highly finished as any similar studies ever made. When he went to Venice in 1879, he struck a chord in the art, which, as his correspondence 9* with his friends at the time showed, he knew to be entirely fresh. He now used the medium in a different spirit, as it were, drawing pictures com- plete in themselves, not merely studies for oil paintings, as the previous ones had been. These drawings created great enthusiasm among the many artists who were then working in Venice, and when some fifty-three of them were shown at the Fine Art Society's Gallery in the spring of 1881, the success they achieved was instantaneous, few, if any, returning to the artist's studio. The Venice pictured on the walls was very different from the Venice seen by other painters. Canaletto painted the Venice of his day soberly and beautifully; Turner converted it into a dream of brilliant colours. Mr. Whistler's Venice was as real as Canaletto' s, but he drew it at sunrise, in the brilliant sunshine of mid- day, at sunset, and occasionally, as in the "Winter Evening" and the "Nocturne — The Riva," at night, bathed in greenish-blue light. The winter which he spent in Venice was one of the longest and most severe that had been known for many years, and it inspired several exquisite drawings, notably a sunrise entitled " The Brown Morning — Winter," a view of the Salute seen from a distance across the pale brown water. It is difficult to select any particular pictures for mention where all were so fine, but besides those 92 BEAD-STRINGERS, VENICE. From a pastel. u •fSf i THE OLD MARBLE PALACE, VENICE. From a pastel. already named we recall especially the " Fishing Boats," in which the bright black and yellow sails of the large boat form vivid notes of colour, and the drawing called ''The Storm — Sunset,"in which the domes and towers of the city, seen across a wide expanse of dark greenish water, stand up dark against orange and scarlet clouds and a pale green sky, overshadowed by a lowering storm- cloud. This is a picture which, once seen, is never forgotten, just as once or twice in a lifetime, per- haps, one may see some extraordinary effect in nature, which remains with one always as a lasting possession. Yet there were other sunsets which, though lacking the force of " The Storm," were even more exquisite in harmonious colouring ; such as " The Riva — Sunset, red and gold," the " Sunset, red and gold — The Gondolier," and the "Sunset, red and gold — Salute"; three pictures which were quite distinct in effect though, as their titles show, their dominant colours were similar. There were also many drawings of courtyards and passages, often in shadow, with a brilliant patch of sunlight seen at the end, as in the " Bead- stringers," with its group of figures, here illus- trated, and studies of buildings, such as "The Old Marble Palace," which we also reproduce. In many of these, especially in the upright drawings, the composition and arrangement is reminiscent 93 of Hiroshige, but in colour and treatment they are entirely original. Besides the fifty-three pastels shown at the Ex- hibition, Mr. Whistler drew many others in Venice, some of which were as beautiful as any he ever did. Among these are several in which for some reason or other the artist, after completing an elaborate drawing of some narrow canal or old palace, added only a few touches of colour and then left it. These sketches show a great mastery in archi- tectural drawing of the most difficult nature. Before leaving this part of our subject, it may be interesting to note the enormous amount of work which Mr. Whistler accomplished during his stay in Venice of not much more than a year. There were probably nearly one hundred pastels, a fine oil painting — " Nocturne, blue and gold — St. Mark's " — (besides another picture of a gondolier which was never completed, owing to the model falling ill), and a collection of some forty or more etchings, which alone would have occupied any other worker for several years. For some time after his return he made few new pastels, but later on he drew a number of charming pictures of models, daintily draped, and often accompanied by a little nude child, very tender in colour and soft in treatment. One of these, " The Shell," we are able to illustrate here, 94 NUDE STUDY. From a black and white drawing $% and several similar studies were seen at the Inter- national Society's exhibitions. Although, as we shall show, Mr. Whistler's earliest extant productions were executed in water colour, he made no use of that medium during his maturity until some time after his return from Venice. One would have expected him to take special delight in an art of such extreme delicacy, but his earliest exhibited water colours were " Note in Opal— Jersey," and "St. Brelade's Bay," shown at the Grosvenor Gallery in 1882. As we have been privileged by the kindness of Mrs. W. McNeill Whistler to reproduce what is in all probability the earliest complete picture by Mr. Whistler now in existence, it will be as well to refer to it at once. It represents the cobbler with whom Sam Weller lodged in the Fleet. Their conversation will be remembered: " ' Do you alvays smoke arter you goes to bed, old cock? ' enquired Mr. Weller of his landlord, when they had both retired for the night. " ' Yes, I does, young bantam,' replied the cobbler. " ' Vill you allow me to en-quire vy you make up your bed under that 'ere deal table?' said Sam. " ' 'Cause I was alvays used to a four-poster afore I came here, and I find the legs of the table answer just as well,' replied the cobbler. 95 " ' You're a character, sir/ said Sam." As will be seen by our illustration the subject is very clearly expressed, and if it be said that it is distinctly literary in treatment, the answer must be that the drawing, which is excellent in colour, was made when the artist was about twelve years of age ! When in Venice Mr. Whistler executed one or two water colours, sometimes finishing them with pastel. Soon after his return he made a drawing of London Bridge, which is illustrated here. The scene is glowing in the light of the setting sun, and bright notes of colour are introduced in the vehicles crossing the bridge. In front is the Old Swan Pier, with steamboats on the river, and a great cloud of dark smoke rises against the sky and is reflected in the water. It is a splendid subject splendidly treated, but the artist, not being accustomed to the medium, was not himself pleased with it. He began using water colour seriously with some very beautiful drawings in the Channel Islands and studies of figures in the studio, and from time to time he made small groups of water colours at various places at home and abroad. It is most interesting to compare these groups and to note how the treatment is varied to give the differing aspect and characteristics of each place. One re- members specially a drawing of the market-place 96 S fcj •-: 5 * ri 3 £ SOUTHEND— THE PLEASURE YACHT. From a water colour. at Dieppe, full of figures; and several at St. Ives, among which is the exquisite little picture which forms our frontispiece. 1 Another, quite small in measurement, is taken from the sea-shore, with the waves breaking in the foreground, whilst, beyond, a succession of fishing-boats is sailing away into the mystery of the distant horizon and the golden sunset. Each of these drawings is re- markable for its extreme delicacy of colour and wonderful atmosphere. In Dutch cities he found subjects for nocturnes quite different from those which he painted in other countries. The narrow canals bordered by dimly-defined gray buildings, through the windows of which the lighted interiors are seen, all softened by the evening mists — how these sombre paintings contrast with the gaiety of the Southend series ! Southend, the home of glorious sunsets, whence one may watch the sun sinking into the distant smoke of London, across the vast tracts of sand and shallow water! Here he painted what is per- haps one of the most delightful of all his water colours, a drawing which is among the greatest treasures of Mr. Way's collection. It represents Southend on a bank holiday, with the 'Arries and 'Arriets promenading along the sea-front, their pink and white and black clothing standing out 1 The reproduction is the actual size of the original. h 97 against the blue-green sea which stretches away to the distant Kentish shores. To the right, nearly the whole length of the interminable pier is seen, broken by the tall masts of a yacht and a distant barge, and over all a late afternoon sky with golden clouds. Another picture of this series, which is here reproduced, shows a tall yacht close in shore, just returned from a sixpenny sail; behind is a vast extent of blue sea, and above a sky of such delicate colour as to be almost imperceptible. A large number of water colours, as well as pastels and small oil pictures, were seen at the two ex- hibitions which Mr. Whistler held at Messrs. Dowdeswell's Gallery in 1884 and 1886; and among them, besides drawings of the various places already mentioned, were many paintings of streets and shops in Chelsea (one of which we illus- trate) and other parts of London; some of Paris, and a number of sea-pieces. There were also some charming figure subjects, such as " The Mothers Sleep," here reproduced. As is true of every medium he used, his work in water colour bears the strong impress of his per- sonality, and, slight as some of it appears to be, the " butterfly " signature is never really necessary as a means of identification. It is signed all over, and if in the case of any picture purporting to be a Whistler it is found necessary to look for the 98 I - w 2 butterfly before all doubt is removed, it is quite certain that the work, if genuine, is not one of his masterpieces. There remains one side of the master's art in which his pre-eminence has never been questioned, namely, interior decoration. Here, no doubt, he learnt much from the Japanese, but he brought his own sense of colour into his schemes, and the results were always strikingly original as well as beautiful, and, with the exception perhaps of the Peacock Room, were obtained with the simplest means. Plain distempered walls and painted wood- work, Japanese matting on the floor, plain cur- tains hanging in straight folds ; the dining-table covered always with its white cloth, on which were arranged old silver and blue and white china — such were the materials he used in his own homes ; and those who were privileged to visit him carried away the memory of rooms as entirely simple in decoration as they were refined and reposeful in effect. It is to be feared, however, that few if any of these rooms remain, and Mr. Whistler's reputation as a decorator will rest on the masterpiece which he designed and carried out for Mr. F. R. Leyland in 1876-7. The famous shipowner was, if not the greatest, at least the most discriminating art patron 99 of the Victorian era in London — a man of such taste and discernment that he gathered together in his house, in Prince's Gate, the finest works of Rossetti, Millais, Burne-Jones, Albert Moore and Whistler. The interior of the house had been entirely re- decorated by Mr. Norman Shaw and Mr. Thomas Jeckyll. The dining-room had been intrusted to Jeckyll, who built up, inside the original walls, a framework of wood, fitted with light shelving for the display of blue china, the panels being covered with sumptuous Spanish leather. The ceiling, also of wood, was panelled and hung with pendant lamps. At one end of the room, over the fireplace, hung the " Princesse du Pays de la Porcelaine," and a large space was left on the opposite wall for the picture of " The Three Girls," which Leyland had commissioned Mr. Whistler to paint. Probably the colour scheme of the room was not to the taste of either of them, and the artist is said to have shown his friend the scheme of decoration which he afterwards carried out with such magnificent results. There seems to be no doubt that it was not originally designed for this room, but had al- ready been offered to another of his patrons, who declined it on account of the expense. The general features of the room can be seen in our illustrations, but it is impossible to realize from a description the harmony of the blue and gold ioo colouring. The groundwork of the whole is a superb peacock blue, on which the decoration is painted in gold, variety in tone being obtained by sometimes painting in blue on gold leaf. The pride and swagger of the peacocks on the three window shutters are inimitable, and the manner in which they fill the spaces is beyond praise. On the great panel at the end of the room are two peacocks painted in blue and gold and silver, with jewelled eyes ; one of them seems to be making a fierce on- slaught on the other, and nothing could better express the manner in which an angry peacock advances, quivering all over, and seeming to fling his tail feathers at his adversary. It is no secret that Leyland and Mr. Whistler quarrelled, owing to some difference of opinion with regard to the price to be paid for the work, and that this panel, with its symbolical meaning, represents the artist's revenge. The walls and ceiling of the room, and the doors, were covered all over with the eyes of peacocks' feathers and similar decoration, and the shelves were gilded. The whole scheme was in- tended, of course, to be seen by artificial light, with the shutters closed. It is sad to have to record that the Peacock Room was bodily taken down in the Spring of 1904, and sold by Messrs. Obach and Co. to an American collector. Mr. Whistler also decorated the staircase in the 101 same house, painting charming panels of white and rose colour on a green ground. Before leaving this house we cannot forbear quoting from Mr. Whistler's amusing letter to " The World," which was called forth by a criticism in " The Plumber and Decorator.'* "Alas! look at this!" he says, 1 "It has been culled from * The Plumber and Decorator,' of all insidious prints. . . . Read, Atlas, and let me execute myself : ' The Peacock drawing-room of a well-to-do shipowner, of Liverpool, at Queen's Gate, London, is hand-painted, representing the noble bird with wings expanded, painted by an Associate of the Royal Academy at a cost of ;£ 7,000, and fortunate in claiming his daughter as his bride, and is one of the finest specimens of high art in decoration in the kingdom. The mansion is of modern construction.' " He is not guilty, this honest Associate ! It was /*, Atlas, who did this thing — ' alone I did it ' — / ' hand-painted ' this room in the ' mansion of modern construction.' Woe is me ! / secreted, in the provincial shipowner's home, the ' noble bird with wings expanded' — /perpetrated, in harmless obscurity, the ' finest specimen of high art decora- tion' — and the Academy is without stain in the 1 "The World," December 31st, 1884. Reprinted in "The Gentle Art of Making Enemies," p. 174. I02 PANELS FROM THE PEACOCK ROOM. PANEL FROM THE PEACOCK ROOM. art of its members. Also the immaculate character of that Royal body has been falsely impugned by this wicked ' Plumber M Mark these things, Atlas, that justice may be done, the innocent spared, and history cleanly written." Those who visited the artist's various exhibitions will remember the simple and beautiful decoration of the rooms in which they were held. One recalls especially the gallery in which the Venice pastels were shown, with its high dado of dark warm green, and a narrow frieze of pink divided by a gilt moulding, the gold being repeated in a deeper tone on the skirting board. From this time on- wards each gallery had a different scheme of dec- oration, equally harmonious and always forming a perfect background for the pictures. It is much to be regretted that these decorations were so soon obliterated and lost. Mr. Whistler also decorated Sefior Sarasate's music-room in Paris, which we may hope will be preserved; and he was com- missioned to decorate one of the rooms in the Boston Athenaeum, other rooms in which building were decorated by Mr. J. S. Sargent and Mr. E. A. Abbey; but it is to be feared that Boston will not be able to boast a rival to the " Peacock Room." Mr. Whistler's fine decorative instinct was also brought to bear upon the framing of his pictures. 103 He was never content with the stock patterns of the frame-maker, but designed his own mouldings, and, in the case of his earlier works, even went so far as to paint a kind of Japanese pattern on the surface of the gold, using one of the dominant colours of the picture it inclosed. All his frames are extremely simple in style, and it is interesting to trace through the years the changes which he developed, not only in the mouldings, which were mostly arrangements of fine reeds, but in the colour of the gold used. With the idea ever in his mind that a picture must first of all be a perfect piece of decoration on the wall, it was only natural that he should have considered the frame — which is the means of isolating the picture from its sur- roundings — as an integral part of the whole. He felt this even in his childhood, for a very old friend of his, writing to " The Times " (August 28th, 1903), says that "in an excellent French letter Jemmie sent me from St. Petersburg, when he was a lad of ten or eleven, he inclosed some pretty pen-and-ink drawings, each on a separate bit of paper, and each surrounded by a frame of his designing." A word may be added with reference to Mr. Whistler's book illustrations. Two drawings ap- peared in " Good Words " in 1862, as illustrations 104 to "The First Sermon"; and four more were contributed to the pages of " Once a Week " in the same year. These last, which were illustra- tions to " The Major's Daughter," " The Relief Fund in Lancashire," " The Morning before the Massacre of St. Bartholomew," and " Count Burckhardt " were afterwards reprinted in Thorn- bury's " Historical and Legendary Ballads," pub- lished by Chatto and Windus in 1876, and two of them are given here. They bear a strong resem- blance to his early etchings of figure subjects, and show equal command of line. So far as is known the only other illustrations by Mr. Whistler, are contained in the catalogue of Sir Henry Thomp- son's " Collection of Blue and White Nankin Porce- lain," published by Ellis and Elvey in 1878. They are mostly in colour and give evidence of a won- derful mastery of drawing. 105 CHAPTER IX MR. WHISTLER AS A WRITER FOR those who knowand admire Mr. Whistler's work, it is difficult to understand the viru- lence of the criticism to which for long years all that he produced was subjected. The painter of portraits which take rank with the greatest crea- tions of all time ; of decorative panels which, in sheer charm of colour and line have never been surpassed; of a series of nocturnes whose tech- nique is only equalled by their feeling for Nature and their unrivalled sense of atmosphere; the master who achieved brilliant and enduring suc- cess alike in oil and water colour, in pastel, in etching and dry-point, and in lithography, was received with obloquy and ribaldry; was mis- understood and misrepresented; was denounced as a charlatan and a coxcomb. " Even his sitters," says Mr. Sickert, 1 " — at a date, be it remembered, when the more exquisite achievements of the new journalism had not been dreamt of — were sub- 1 "Whistler to-day" ("Fortnightly Review," April, 1892). 106 jected through his work to personal impertinences, so that the role of a patron of Whistler's some fifteen years ago required not only discrimination but some personal courage." Yet he went on un- daunted, swerving not a hair's-breadth from the path which he had marked out for himself from the beginning. By nature a fighter, he was roused to fury by the ignorance and stupidity which accused him of not completing his pictures, 1 of attempting to hood- wink the public, of eccentricity and affectation, even of vulgarity. Yet it is to be noticed that, in all his conflicts with the critics, he fought not in order to gratify mere personal hatred and scorn, but solely that he might uphold the dignity of his art. To Art his whole life was devoted, and his brilliant epigrams, his coruscating wit, his violent invective, his rapier-like attacks, were called forth by indignation at the unintelligent stupidity of those who pretended to guide the public taste. " There were but two views he was capable of taking," says one who knew him well, 2 "the art 1 In his evidence at the Ruskin trial Burne-Jones said that Mr. Whistler " evaded the difficulties of painting by not carry- ing his pictures far enough." " This," said " The Times," in its leader (November 27th, 1878), " would probably be accepted as a fair representation of the truth by everybody." 2 See a brilliant article by the New York correspondent of "The Times" (August 7th, 1903). 107 view and the personal view. His enemies said the latter prevailed. I do not think it ever prevailed where art was concerned. Art was his religion, and to his conception of it he was as faithful as a Mahomedan to his. Certain things he believed in. He believed in them not because other people did, or because they had come down to him from earlier generations, but because they were his by birth and by training and by conviction. The temptation, the merely worldly temptation, the money temptation, to sacrifice them was very great. He never did. He was as incapable of compromise as Luther, and he had a conscience just as implacable. I do not believe that in the darkest days Whistler even so much as considered the question of painting to please the public. He was his own public, he and the great men and the great traditions of the great past." The curious will find his innumerable controversies recorded in "The Gentle Art of Making Enemies," a first edition of which was brought out by Mr. Sheridan Ford in New York in 1890. Apparently the book was begun with the artist's permission and co-operation, but he afterwards withdrew his consent to its publication, and it was promptly suppressed as soon as it appeared. Later in the same year he himself brought out his own edition in London, the full title of which ran as follows: 108 " The Gentle Art of Making E nemies, as pleasingly exemplified in many instances, wherein the serious ones of this earth, carefully exasperated ; have been prettily spurred on to unseemliness and in- discretion, while overcome by an undue sense of right." We have no intention of passing in review the various ephemeral quarrels which form the bulk of this volume, and indeed they are better for- gotten. His serious contributions to the theory and criticism of art are contained chiefly in the pamphlet published after the Ruskin trial under the title of "Art and Art Critics," in the "Ten o'Clock" lecture, and in various notes added to the catalogues of his exhibitions. They are writ- ten in terse, rhythmical English, and display great command of language, while the short, in- cisive sentences, the startling epigrams, the ag- gressive alliteration, compel our attention. In " Art and Art Critics" he makes a vigorous onslaught on the critics, whom he would abolish altogether, brushing away with infinite scorn the plea that criticism is good for art. The painter and the painter alone should be the " critic and sole authority " on painting, since it is the painter who in the long run establishes the recognized canons of art. " No!" he cries, "let there be no more critics! they are not a 'necessary evil/ but 109 an evil quite unnecessary, though an evil cer- tainly." He sums up the average "art critic" in words which are worth quoting as showing how effectively he can use alliteration to emphasize his contempt. "Mediocrity flattered at acknowledg- ing mediocrity, and mistaking mystification for mastery, enters the fog of dilettantism, and gra- duating connoisseur ends its days in a bewilder- ment of bric-a-brac and Brummagem." Art, he insists, must be based on definite scientific laws, whereas, at the present day, " taste " is accepted as a sufficient qualification for the critic and " art is joyously received as a matter of opinion." Mr. Whistler did his best to help the despised critic by setting forth in the most definite form the principles which guided him and to which he scrupulously adhered in all his work. Many of these invaluable pronouncements have been quoted already in the course of this volume, and though in his desire to irritate the critics, he often in- dulged in paradoxical assertions which are hardly to be taken literally, yet a collection of his obiter dicta would make an excellent text-book on the underlying principles of art, and a study of them would do much — indeed it has done much — to raise the general level of art criticism. Here is a characteristic proposition, expressing a funda- mental truth, almost invariably overlooked by no critics. It is taken from " L'Envoie" to the cata- logue of the exhibition of 1884. "A picture is finished when all trace of the means used to bring about the end has disappeared. To say of a pic- ture, as is often said in its praise, that it shows great and earnest labour, is to say that it is in- complete and unfit for view. Industry in Art is a necessity — not a virtue — and any evidence of the same, in the production, is a blemish, not a quality; a proof, not of achievement, but of absolutely in- efficient work, for work alone will efface the foot- steps of work." In the lecture given at Prince's Hall in 1885, and entitled " Ten o'Clock," from the unusual hour of delivery, he sums up many of his theories with great literary skill. He insists that the artist must find his material and his inspiration in his present surroundings, "as did Rembrandt, when he saw picturesque grandeur and noble dignity in the Jews' quarter of Amsterdam, and lamented not that its inhabitants were not Greeks." The literary predilections, and the sham mediaevalism of the pre-Raphaelites, were as abhorrent to him as the prosaic realism against which they were a protest. The great men — Rembrandt, Tintoret, Paul Vero- nese, Velasquez — were not reformers, " improvers of the way of others." They were occupied solely with the beauty of their work, and " filled with the in poetry of their science, they required not to alter their surroundings. " But now " Beauty is con- founded with virtue, and before a work of art, it is asked ' What good shall it do ? . . . And thus the people have acquired the habit of looking, as who should say, not at a picture, but through it, at some human fact, that shall or shall not, from a social point of view, better their mental and moral state." The "unattached writer" is the object of his special contempt, for he considers a picture purely from the literary point of view, dealing with it " as with a novel, a history, or an anecdote. " Thus " he degrades Art, by supposing it a method of bringing about a literary climax." Mr. Whistler, of course, states the question of "Art for Art's sake " in an extreme form. Art cannot be divested of all human feeling, as indeed his own works show. He was indeed actually guilty of several book-illustrations, two of which are here printed. But even his paintings, as Mr. Swinburne pointed out in language as forcible as his own, do not appeal to us solely as arrangements of line and colour. " It is true," he wrote, 1 "that Mr. Whist- ler's own merest * arrangements ' in colour are lovely and effective; but his portraits, to speak of these alone, are liable to the damning and intoler- 1 " Mr. Whistler's Lecture on Art " (" Fortnightly Review," June, 1888). 112 ILLUSTRATION TO " THE MAJOR'S DAUGHTER." From " Once a Week." 113 able imputation of possessing not merely other qualities than these, but qualities which actually appeal — I blush to remember and I shudder to record it — which actually appeal to the intelligence and the emotions, to the mind and heart of the spectator.'' Mr. Whistler has, indeed, himself said that it is the duty of a portrait painter to paint the man, and not merely his features. Yet it is hardly fair to accuse him of inconsistency on this score. The point on which he wishes to insist is that a work of art must stand alone, independent of its subject, which is only of value in so far as it in- fluences the painter for good or ill. In looking at a picture, the question must be, not "What does it mean? " but " Is it well painted?" and an artist is to be judged not from the subject which he chooses, but from his method of handling that sub- ject. Rembrandt's "Woman taken in Adultery" is not the less a fine work of art because it repre- sents an incident in Scripture, nor did Velasquez prove himself less great in " The Surrender of Breda," where the interest is largely historical, than in " Las Hilanderas," where it depends on the " arrangement " of light and shade. As in all branches of art, what is of supreme importance is that the work shall be good of its kind, not hiding bad workmanship by a meretricious appeal to sentiment, nor claiming by a spurious assumption ii5 of morality an attention which its artistic merits do not deserve. In an age devoted to material fact, when education is considered merely as a preparation for money- making, and imagination and poetry are in danger of being overwhelmed and destroyed by the sensa- tionalism of the press and the growing impatience with all ideals that are not purely utilitarian, Mr. Whistler, throughout a long life, taught the su- preme value of beauty for its own sake, and preached the unpopular doctrine that ugliness, how- ever useful, is not to be tolerated by a self-respect- ing people. It is true that he was a bad preacher. The vehemence of his sarcasm and the biting sting of his wit, merely irritated his opponents and amused the bystanders, so that the truths for which he fought were temporarily obscured and overlooked. It maybe hoped, however, that they will prevail in the end, when the heat of the fray is forgotten; and meanwhile his works remain as practical illustrations of the principles which he so strenuously upheld and so conscientiously carried out. 116 ILLUSTRATION TO "THE MORNING BEFORE THE MASSACRE OF ST. BARTHOLOMEW." From " Once a Week." WORKS BY JAMES McNEILL WHISTLER EXHIBITED AT THE ROYAL ACADEMY The titles are taken from the Catalogues of the Exhibitions 1859 Two Etchings from Nature. i860 At the Piano. Monsieur Astruc, Redacteur du Journal 1' Ar- tiste. (Drypoint.) Portrait. (Drypoint.) Thames. Black Lion Wharf. (Etching.) W. Jones, Lime-Burner, Thames Street. (Etch- ing-) The Thames from the Tunnel Pier. (Etching.) 1S61 La M£re Gerard. Thames from New Crane Wharf. (Etching.) 119 The Thames near Limehouse. (Etching.) Mons. Oxenfeld, Litterateur, Paris. (Dry- point.) 1862 The Twenty-fifth of December, i860, on the Thames. Alone with the Tide. Rotherhithe. (Etching.) 1863 The Last of Old Westminster. Old Westminster Bridge. (Etching.) The Forge. (Drypoint.) Hungerford Bridge. (Etching.) Weary. (Drypoint.) Monsieur Becgio. (Etching.) The Pool. (Drypoint.) 1864 Wapping. Die Lange Leizen — of the Six Marks. 1865 The Golden Screen. Old Battersea Bridge. The Little White Girl. The Scarf. 120 1867 Symphony in White, No. 3. Battersea. Sea and Rain. 1870 The Balcony. 1872 Arrangement in Gray and Black. Portrait of the Painter's Mother. 1879 Etching: Old Putney Bridge. T2I INDEX Alexander, Miss, Portrait of, 8, 10, 1 6, 35, 43- Amsterdam series of etchings, 76. "Angry Sea, The," 19, 6$. "Art and Art Critics," 9, 109. "Artist's Studio, The," 39. "At the Piano," 7, 15, 18, 22. "Balcony, The," 7, 25, 32, 33- "Baronet and the Butterfly, The," 11. Battersea, Lord, 33. Beam, Comtesse de, 50. "Black Lion Wharf " (Etching), 70. " Blue Girl, The," 46, 90. " Blue Wave— Biarritz," 63. "Bognor" (Nocturne in Blue and Silver), 61. Book-illustrations, 104, 105, 112. Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, Burne-Jones, Sir E., 107. Burrell, Mr. W., 32, 46. Campbell, Lady Archibald, Portrait of, 9, 50. Canaletto, the Venice of, 92. Carlyle, Thomas, Portrait of, 8, 10, 16, 35, 42, 43. Channel Islands, water colours done in the, 95, 96. Chapman, Mr., 32. "Chelsea in Ice," 57. "Chelsea Rags," 64. " Chelsea Reach," 60. " Chelsea Shops," 64. "Chelsea— Snow," 20, 61. Child, Mr. Theodore, quoted, 33- Chopin, 54. Cole, Sir Henry, Portrait of Corder, Miss Rosa, Portrait of, 9, 10, 16, 35, 45. Cowan, Mr. J. J., 50, 64. "Cremorne Gardens," 61. " Cremorne Lights," 59. " Cure's Little Class, The," 64. Daumier, 78. Davis, Mr. Edmund, 22, 29, 57- 123 Decorative work, 99; Mr. Whistler's own houses, 99; the Peacock Room, 99-103; Exhibition galleries, 103; Sarasate's music-room, 103; picture frames, 103, 104. "Dieppe— Blue and Silver," 64. Dowdeswells, Messrs., 9, 7 2, 98. Du Maurier, George, 6. Duret, M. Theodore, Portrait of, 38, 47> 48. "Early Morning" (lithograph), 71, 79, 82. Eden, Sir William, 11. " Etchings and Drypoints," first and second series, 9. Etchings, Whistler's, greatness of, 65, 66; qualities of, 67; the little French Set, 67, 68; the Thames series, 68-71; the Venice sets, 72-76; later plates, 76, 77. "Falling Rocket, The," 59. Fantin-Latour, M., 78. Fine Art Society, The, 9, 12, 68, 72, 78, 92. "Fire-wheel, The," 59, 60. Fleet at Spithead, etchings of the, 76. Ford, Mr. Sheridan, 109. Freer, Mr. C. L., 26, 33. "Fur Jacket, The," 45, 46. Gavarni, 78. "Gentle Art of Making En- emies, The," 11, 108. 124 Gilchrist, Connie, portraits of, 9, 91. Glasgow, Corporation of, 43. Godwin, E. W., 13. Godwin, Mrs. See Whistler, Mrs. "Golden Screen, The," 7, 21, 25> 3 2 > 33. "Good Words," illustrations in, 104, 105. Gould, Miss, exhibition ar- ranged by, 10. Goupil, Messrs., 11. Grosvenor Gallery, Whistler's exhibits at the, 8, 9. Haden, Sir Seymour, 6, 65. Haden, Lady, 22. Hamerton, P. G., Whistler's reply to, 30. Henley, W. E., his love of London compared with Whistler's, 56; lithograph portrait of, 88. Hiroshige, influence of, on Whistler, 58, 59, 94. Holbein, 25, 34, 35. Holloway, C. E., Portrait of, 50. "Hothouse, The." See Sym- phony in White, No. 4. Hulmandel, 81. Huth, Mrs., Portrait of, 50. International Society of Sculp- tors, Painters and Gravers, The, 12. Irving as Philip II. of Spain, 10, 47> 48. Japan, influence of, on Whist- ler, 23-25, 99. Jarvis, Mrs., Portrait of, 50. " Lange Leizen, Die," 7, 32. "Last of Old Westminster, The," 7, 18, 57. Leyland, Mr. F. R., 31, 53, 99-101; Portrait of, 8, $8, 46. Leyland, Mrs. F. R., 60; Por- trait of, 8, 46; study for the portrait of, 90. Leyland, the Misses, portrait studies of, 46. " Leyland, Baby," portrait study of, 46, 91. "Lillie in Our Alley," 50. Lithographs, W T histler's, 10, 1 2 ; some qualities of, 79, 80; earliest prints, 80-82 ; variety of, 83; nude studies, 84; portraits, 84, 85, 87; Lon- don subjects, 85, 87, 88; development of technique, 85, 86; the Luxembourg Gardens series, 86; the Lyme Regis subjects, 86; latest prints, 87, 88. " Little French Set " of etch- ings, 6, 67. "Little Sweet-stuff Shop, The," 64. " Little White Girl, The," 7, 21, 26, 27. London, Whistler settles in, 6, 7; his love of, 56. " London Bridge " (water colour), 96. Lyme Regis, Whistler at, 12, 49, 50, 86. McCulloch, Mr. George, 38, Manuel, Stevie, Portrait of, 49. "Master Smith of Lyme Regis, The," 12, 49- "Mere Gerard, La," 7, 15, 22. Meryon, Charles, 65. Meux, Lady, Portraits of, 9, 47- Montesquiou, M. R. de, Por- trait of, 50. Moore, Albert, compared with Whistler, 3. Moore, Mr. George, quoted, 43, 44- "Mother's Portrait, The," 8, 10, 16, 17, 35, 40-42. " Mother's Sleep, The " (water colour), 98. "Music-Room, The," 23. Muther, Dr., quoted, 54. " Nocturne in Blue and Silver, No. 1," 60. Nocturnes, 51, 54, 59-63, 94; origin of the word, 53; Whistler's definition of, 53^.; 125 nfluence of Hiroshigein, 59; etchings, 68, 74, 76; litho- graphs, 79, 82; pastels, 92. " Nocturnes, Marines and Chevalet Pieces," Exhibi- tion of, 11. "Notes, Harmonies and Noc- turnes," first and second series, 9. " Ocean, the," 62. "Old Battersea Bridge," 57. " Old Battersea Bridge" (Noc- turne), 59. " Once a Week," illustrations in, 105. "Papilio Mordens," 10. Paris, Whistler in, 12. Pastel, old use of, 89; Whist- ler's method of work in, 90; early studies, 90, 91; Vene- tian series, 91-94. Peacock Room, The, 31, 99- 103. Pennell, Mrs., on Mr. Whist- ler's lithographs, quoted, 84. " Philosopher, The," 50. "Piano Picture, The." See "At the Piano." "Piccadilly," lithographs made for, 81, S3. "Pink and Gray— Chelsea," 58. " Princesse du Pays de la Por- 126 celaine, La," 7, 18, 25, 32, 100. Prinsep, Mrs. Val, 46 Rembrandt, 34, 111, 113; his etchings and Whistler's com- pared, 65, 66. "Rose of Lyme Regis, The," 12, 49. " Rotherhithe " (etching), 69. Royal Academy, Whistler's exhibits at the, 6, 7. Royal Society of British Art- ists, Whistler and the, 9, 10. Ruskin, Whistler and, 8. "St. Ives" (water colour), 97. Sarasate, Sehor, 47, 48, 49. "Scherzo in Blue," 46, 91. " Shell, The " (pastel), 94. Sickert, Mr. Walter, quoted, 61, 106. Southend, water colours done at, 97, 98. Spartali, Miss, 32. Stevenson, R. A. M., quoted, 38. Studd, Mr. A. H., 27, 60. "Sun Cloud, The," 63. Swinburne, Mr. A. C, 7, 28, 41, 112. " Symphony in White, No. 1." See " The White Girl." " Symphony in White, No. 2." See "The Little White Girl." " Symphony in White, No. 3." 7, 21, 25, 26, 29. 11 Symphony in White, No. 4." S<?* "The Three Girls." "Tall Bridge, The" (litho- graph), 80. Technique, Whistler's, in paint- ing, 14-19. "Ten o'Clock," 11, 109, in. Thames, the, pictures of, 7, 55- 60 ; etchings of, 68-71; litho- graphs of, 79, 82, 83, 87. "Thames in Ice, The," 7, 18, Thompson, Sir Henry, his " Catalogue of Nankin Por- celain," 105. "Three Girls, The," 25, 26, 30, 91, 100. Tintoret, 15, 34, in. " Toilet, The " (lithograph) 80. "Traghetto, The" (etching), 74- Turner, the Venice of, 92. Underdowne, Mr., Q.C., 10. Valparaiso, Whistler's visit to, 7 . "Valparaiso Harbour," 19, 62. "Valparaiso" (Nocturne in Blue and Gold), 62, 63. Vanderbilt, Mr., portrait of, 50. Velasquez, 34, 35, 37, 44j 45, 48, in, 113. Venice, Whistler's visit to, 9; etchings at, 9, 72-76; pastels at, 9, 91-94; Whistler's re- presentation of, different from that of other painters, 92; water colours at, 96. " Venice— St. Mark's," 94. Water colour, earliest work in, 94; Channel Islands series, 96; drawings in Holland and at Southend, 97; later subjects, 98. Way, Mr. Thomas, 40, 79, 81, 97- "Weary" (etching), 72. Wedmore, Mr., quoted, 75. Weller, Sam, 95. Whistler, James McNeill, com- pared with Albert Moore, 3 ; his versatility, 3; in Paris, 6; settles in London, 6; visit to Valparaiso, 7; his first exhibition, 7 ; the Rus- kin trial, 8; goes to Venice, 9; further exhibitions, 9, 10; elected President of the Royal Society of British Artists, 10; complimentary dinner to, 10; his litho- graphs, 10, 12; his "Ten o'Clock," 11 j his writings, 11 ; exhibition at Messrs. Goupil's, 1 1; settles in Paris, 1 2 ; at Lyme Regis, 1 2 ; first President of the Interna- 127 tional Society, 12; his death, 12 ; honours conferred on, 13; his method of painting, 14; his painting of flesh, 16 ; his painting of accessories, 17; his landscapes, 18 ; ex- planation of the titles of his pictures, 20, 21; influence of Japan on, 23-25; his "at- mosphere," 26, 58; his por- trait painting, 34-38; "Por- traits of Himself," 38-40; qualities of his landscapes, 51; his nocturnes, 53, 54; his pictures of the Thames, 55, 56; compared with Hen- ley, 56; his etchings, 65-77; compared with Rembrandt, 65, 66; his principles in etching, 66, 67; his litho- graphs, 78-88; his pastels, 89-95; ms earliest water colour, 95; other water colours, 96-99; his decora- tive work, 99-103; his pic- ture frames, 103; his book- illustrations, 104; virulence of criticism directed against, 106; his devotion to Art, 107; his writings on Art, 109; the "Ten o'Clock" lecture, in; value of his teaching, 116. Whistler, Mrs., 13; lithograph portrait of, 88. Whistler, Dr. W. McNeill, por- trait of, 40; lithograph por- trait of, 85. Whistler, Mrs. W. McNeill, 40, 95- " White Girl, The," 7, 21, 26. "White Girl" (picture de- faced), 26, 27; study for, 27, 90. CHISWICK PRESS : PRINTED BY CHARLES WHITTINGHAM AND CO. TOOKS COURT, CHANCERY LANE, LONDON. The Art of James McNeill Whistler BY T. R. WAY and G. R. DENNIS. Some Opinions on the First Edition. "That pleasant little book on Whistler, which, without being an actually unprejudiced, an actually adequate study, is yet, as a whole, the only serious single-minded contribution to men's knowledge of the master that has been received in book form, at all events, since his death." — Mr. Frederick Wedmore in The Nineteenth Century •, Aprils 1904. " If anything were needed to give the world a just view of one whom it so entirely misunderstood in life, it is supplied by the admirably complete, sympathetic, and richly illustrated study of Messrs. Way and Dennis." — Mr. A. G. Gardiner in The Daily Neivs. " The book is not a hasty compilation thrown together to meet the requirements of the market, but a sober and thoughtful study of the art of one of the most gifted and interesting of modern artists. The authors write with an intimate knowledge of their subject, and a sincere admira- tion of Mr. Whistler's work. There is hardly any attempt at criticism, and none to forestall the verdict of the future on an artist who has been praised and abused somewhat immoderately; but the good sense of the authors, their discretion, their affection and evident sincerity, give great charm to their unaffected eulogy. The volume is amply illustrated, not only with photographic reproductions of the more important paintings, etchings and book illustrations, water colours and lithographs, but also with some excellent colour reproductions of pastels and water colours. The water colour of St. Ives, which forms the frontispiece, is really a triumph of reproductive art." — Manchester Guardian. " If the world still requires a brief to be held for this great master, it is surely to be found in the admirable book by T. R. Way and G. R. Dennis, ' The Art of James McNeill Whistler.' It is called an 'appreciation.' This it is: and at the same time, dealing wholly as it does with the art of the man and leaving details of his career to be supplied by other writers, it is a splendidly considered tribute to the artist's genius, and an accurate guide to the special characteristics of his work. Mr. Thomas Way is the fortunate possessor of a large number of Whistler's pastels, water colours, and etchings, and the sumptuous book is enriched with some admirable reproductions without being swollen to inordinate size either by the number of its illustrations, the width of the margins, or the thickness of the paper. The colour print- ing, notably in the reproduction of the spiritual St. Ives sketch, is very fine, and the book is one which no art-lover will want to be without." — St. James's Gazette. " It is simply and sympathetically composed, and the selection of the illustrations, which are excellently numerous, shows judgment and good taste. . . . The book, though not final, is yet excellent. Every true lover of the daintiest and most refined and most original of Modern Art will certainly buy it." — Standard. " The authors are to be congratulated on their sympathetic treat- ment of so difficult a subject. Their lucid explanation of Whistler's aims and style should help to convince those who still hesitate to acknowledge his supreme mastery." — Daily Mail. " A very timely and unpretentious as well as useful book. ... To the public at large this volume of Messrs. Way and Dennis is strongly to be recommended, for it will teach them to see and understand the art of one of the greatest artists of all time." — World. " As a record of his producing, as a history of the origin of many of his finest works, and as an intelligent exposition of his marvellous art this volume is of serious importance. To the few, Whistler was known and understood; it is a generous act to make known his work to others, to seek to reveal something of his methods, and to train the eye to appreciate the results. As a collection of reproductions, too, of these comparatively little known pictures this volume is of exceptional worth." — Bookman. "Whistler's works and views on art are described in simple lan- guage, with commendable restraint of technical phraseology, while the number and excellence of the reproductions of his compositions should cause the book to be prized by both laymen and experts." — To-Day. "The work, written with much taste, evident knowledge of Mr. Whistler's art, and eminent discrimination, is an admirable exposition of the principles on which he worked, and a worthy vindication of the claim put forth by friends on his behalf, of his right to be enrolled among the immortals. . . . He who would know Mr. Whistler as an artist would do well to read it." — Scotsman. " In writing of ' The Art of James McNeill Whistler,' Mr. Way and Mr. Dennis display an ease which can only be the outcome of pro- found knowledge. They call their book 'an appreciation.' This it certainly is, but it is not one of those one-sided enthusiastic outpourings which inevitably raise a spirit of controversy in the minds of people who like to judge for themselves. They have simply put down what the man has done in a sympathetic and interesting way, thereby letting him speak for himself, with no appeal for the praise of a public whose opinions he ever scorned. . . . The wide range of Mr. Whistler's genius is clearly held out to our view. They give a concisely worded history of his excellence in oils, water colours, etchings, drypoints, pastels, lithographs, and decora- tive art, and the half-tone reproductions with which the book is illus- trated add much to the value of the criticisms and to the charm of the descriptions." — Mr. M. E. Pountney in The Weekly Critical Review" LONDON: GEORGE BELL AND SONS.